In the context of software programming, I am looking for a verb which expresses a certain relation. Using Merriam Webster online, I have not been able to find what I am looking for, due to lack of a search functionality that matches my needs. I have browsed the verbs and nouns mentioned below with their synonyms and antonyms, but I still haven't found what I'm looking for. 🎵

I am looking for a verb that describes the relation between a condition, a check or a constraint on the one hand and a certain value on the other hand. This relation can be expressed saying that

the value passes the check
the value fulfills the condition
the value complies with the constraint

The relation would not be given if

the value violates the condition

I am looking for a verb that describes the relation in the opposite direction. If you say that to pass, to fulfill, to comply with express the relation of the value to the constraint, I am looking for verbs which express the relation of the constraint to the value. In other words, I want to say this in a sentence having the constraint as subject and the value as object.

I had the following ideas:

the constraint rules the value
the constraint governs the value
the constraint curbs the value
the constraint restricts the value
the constraint confines the value
the constraint validates the value
the constraint includes the value
the constraint accepts the value

But I don't know whether these verbs appropriately express what I mean. I have the feeling none of these options is a good fit. For to rule, to curb, to govern, to restrict and to confine, I have the feeling that all these verbs imply that "the constraint actively does something to the value", that they imply that the constraint is "changing" or at least "holding back" the value. But I would like to precisely avoid this implication. Speaking in conceptual metaphors, the constraint IS a GATEKEEPER and the value is PASSING the GATE. But that process does not interact with the value. The constraint IS a RIVERBED and the value FLOWS inside it. The constraint is not a DIKE and the value is not TRYING TO OVERFLOW it. The value does not have an innate "tension" or "energy" and hence does not need "to be held back", it is conceptualized as passive.

For to include I do not have this feeling. to include correctly expresses that the constraint is describing a certain extension, and the value is to be found within the boundaries of that extension. But I am not sure whether it sounds weird in English to say a constraint includes a value. I would rather expect that this expresses a relation of sub-constraints:

The constraint of being a modern human includes an existentialist lack of meaning.

When it comes to to validate, I think that this verb would denote "the process of running the check", and is not limited to the scenario where the value is found to pass the condition.

Personally, to accept feels like my best guess, but I don't know if this is an idiomatic way of speaking. I haven't found example sentences in Merriam Webster for this construction.

I am looking for idiomatic ways to express this relation.

  • 'Limits' or 'filters' possibly?
    – BoldBen
    Feb 23, 2022 at 5:25
  • 2
    Perhaps the condition constrains the value(s).
    – Peter
    Feb 23, 2022 at 8:14
  • 1
    A constraint allows/permits some values and rejects others; as mentioned it filters/limits/constrains values. Vague questions about concepts are harder to answer precisely than specific questions about "what word do I use in the blank in this sentence?"
    – Stuart F
    Feb 23, 2022 at 10:06
  • @StuartF So far. permits would be my favorite option. Would you make your comment an answer? Feb 23, 2022 at 12:46
  • The constraint governs, confines and restricts are possible, but all the examples require a following context for a useful answer to be given. I am therefore voting to close for lack of clarity.
    – Greybeard
    Feb 23, 2022 at 13:07

1 Answer 1



to control and limit something

From this definition, you cannot avoid the connotation of controlling or limiting. The idea that a constraint somehow does not interact with the values is inadmissible. There is an inescapable interaction of the two. This means your first list is reasonable. Even includes may be acceptable if the constraint is expressed as numerical range.

None of your alternatives need be taken to alter a value; the constraint merely accepts or denies the value (yes or no). In software this is often termed validation.

If “no” is not acceptable to you because it is - as you say - “holding back”, the constraint can have no controlling or limiting effect so may as well not exist. This means that you have sought to redefine constrain and have done so in a way that leads you to irresolvable contradiction.

In brief, the constraints that you place on the discussion and meanings limit the flow of relevant ideas to those that mirror your own exhaustively expressed but ultimately self-contradictory notions. These constraints bound the range of acceptable answers. They guide our attempts to answer.

The result of this discussion may be that a constraint passes the value (in the two senses of approving it or letting it through).

  • But, wait: In the value passes the constraint, I don't see any notion of holding back. Is it me, or is it proving your argument wrong? Feb 23, 2022 at 8:59
  • Or is it not idiomatic to say that a value passes a constraint? Feb 23, 2022 at 9:11
  • @jonathan.scholbach if a value does not pass the constraint, it is "held back", in the sense that I think you use the phrase, The constraint may "pass" (accept for further processing) or "hold back" (prevent further processing) the value.
    – Anton
    Feb 23, 2022 at 12:47
  • So you can say both "the value passes the constraint" and "the constraint passes the value"? Feb 23, 2022 at 13:52
  • That is neat. I like that. The constraint is acting as a gateway to allow passing; the value passes the constraint. I think it works OK.
    – Anton
    Feb 23, 2022 at 14:04

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