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noun con·fine \ˈkän-ˌfīn also kən-ˈ\

Definition of confine

  1. 1 plural a :  something (as borders or walls) that encloses <outside the confines of the office or hospital — W. A. Nolen>; also :  something that restrains <escape from the confines of soot and clutter — E. S. Muskie> b :  scope 3 <work within the confines of a small group — Frank Newman>

  2. 2 a archaic :  restriction b obsolete :  prison

Origin and Etymology of confine

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French confines, plural, from Latin confine border, from neuter of confinis adjacent, from com- + finis end

First Known Use: 15th century



verb con·fine \kən-ˈfīn\

Simple Definition of confine

  • : to keep (someone or something) within limits : to prevent (someone or something) from going beyond a particular limit, area, etc.

  • : to keep (a person or animal) in a place (such as a prison)

  • : to force or cause (someone) to stay in something (such as a bed or wheelchair)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of confine




  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  border

  3. transitive verb
  4. 1 a :  to hold within a location b :  imprison

  5. 2 :  to keep within limits <will confine my remarks to one subject>



Examples of confine in a sentence

  1. <will confine my remarks to the subject we came here to discuss>

  2. <the accused was confined until the trial could take place>

Did You Know?

Confine means basically to keep someone or something within borders. Someone confined to a bedroom or a wheelchair is too ill or disabled to be anywhere else. A person under "house arrest" is confined to his or her house by the government. At a business meeting, the discussion may be confined to a single topic. A town may keep industrial development confined to one area by means of zoning. And someone confined to the state prison for 20 years has probably committed quite a serious crime.


First Known Use of confine


Synonym Discussion of confine

limit, restrict, circumscribe, confine mean to set bounds for. limit implies setting a point or line (as in time, space, speed, or degree) beyond which something cannot or is not permitted to go <visits are limited to 30 minutes>. restrict suggests a narrowing or tightening or restraining within or as if within an encircling boundary <laws intended to restrict the freedom of the press>. circumscribe stresses a restriction on all sides and by clearly defined boundaries <the work of the investigating committee was carefully circumscribed>. confine suggests severe restraint and a resulting cramping, fettering, or hampering <our choices were confined by finances>.

CONFINE Defined for Kids


verb con·fine \kən-ˈfīn\

Definition of confine for Students



  1. 1 :  to keep within limits <Her study of bears is confined to those in North America.>

  2. 2 :  to shut up :  imprison

  3. 3 :  to keep indoors <She was confined by sickness.>


\-mənt\ noun

Word Root of confine

The Latin word finis, meaning “end” or “boundary,” gives us the root fin. Words from the Latin finis have something to do with ends or limits. Something final, such as the last chapter in a book, is the ending one. To confine is to put limits or boundaries around something. To finish something is to come to its end. Something finite has limits and happens only for a certain amount of time or in a certain space before it ends.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb con·fine \kən-ˈfīn\

Medical Definition of confine




  1. :  to keep from leaving accustomed quarters (as one's room or bed) under pressure of infirmity, childbirth, or detention

Law Dictionary


transitive verb con·fine

Legal Definition of confine



  1. :  to hold within a location; specifically :  imprison

Seen and Heard

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