con·​fine | \ ˈkän-ˌfīn How to pronounce confine (audio) also kən-ˈfīn How to pronounce confine (audio) \

Definition of confine

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 confines plural
a : something (such 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 sense 3 work within the confines of a small group— Frank Newman
2a archaic : restriction
b obsolete : prison


con·​fine | \ kən-ˈfīn How to pronounce confine (audio) \
confined; confining

Definition of confine (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to hold within a location Dikes confined the floodwaters.
2 : to keep within limits will confine my remarks to one subject

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Other Words from confine


confiner noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for confine

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of confine in a Sentence

Verb will confine my remarks to the subject we came here to discuss the accused was confined until the trial could take place
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Tucked in amid the almond groves and vegetable fields are vast dairy operations that confine cows together by the thousands and produce more than a fifth of the nation’s milk supply, more than any other state. Tom Philpott, Wired, "The Biblical Flood That Will Drown California," 29 Aug. 2020 The order said law enforcement cannot detain, arrest or confine anyone who does not wear a mask but can issue fines of up to $250 if someone first ignores a verbal or written warning. Fox News, "Texas sheriffs refuse to enforce governor's mask mandate despite surge in coronavirus cases," 10 July 2020 Furthermore, the use of tear gas has forced protesters to cough, which also increases the risk of potential spread, and arrested protesters who police confine in close quarters also are at greater risk. oregonlive, "Cities across the nation are offering protesters free coronavirus tests. Portland and Oregon aren’t.," 11 June 2020 Rapp did not confine activities to aircraft and music. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "Steven Rapp, lost to COVID-19, was Greenwood’s Renaissance man," 5 June 2020 For those under self-quarantine in the confines of their home, here are some do's and don'ts amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Julia Thompson, USA TODAY, "States are reopening, but many require travelers to self-quarantine. Here's where," 25 May 2020 Coronavirus has so pervasively damaged our life, but its way of killing remains so often hidden in the confines of ICUs, where only valiant healthcare workers see the trauma. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "Bolsonaro calls coronavirus a 'little flu.' Inside Brazil's hospitals, doctors know the horrifying reality," 23 May 2020 Now single-use plastics are more popular than ever as people panic-buy disposable items like water bottles, plus other products wrapped safely in the confines of plastic, like hand sanitizer and tissues and foods. Matt Simon, Wired, "Yet Another Consequence of the Pandemic: More Plastic Waste," 13 Apr. 2020 Earlier Friday, the Vatican announced that Francis will mark Holy Week ceremonies in the confines of Vatican City, including a Good Friday Way of the Cross service on the steps of the basilica., "Spain in near-lockdown, on the verge of crisis," 27 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Facebook's alternative is for researchers to confine their research to those ads and other data that the company chooses to share with them directly, while promising that this data will be comprehensive and reliable. Cory Doctorow, Wired, "Facebook Is Going After Its Critics in the Name of Privacy," 20 Nov. 2020 Under variations of the jurisdiction-stripping proposal, Democratic lawmakers could also limit the ability of lower courts to review legislation or could confine legal challenges to geographic regions where courts are generally sympathetic. Jennifer Epstein,, "Court-Packing Alternatives Start Gaining Traction With Democrats," 21 Oct. 2020 Neither group was told to confine their walks to parks or to avoid urban settings, Sturm said. Gretchen Reynolds, Star Tribune, "An 'awe walk' might do wonders for your well-being," 15 Oct. 2020 Federal Judge Eric Komitee ordered the detention of Queens cop Baimadajie Angwang after prosecutors appealed a magistrate judge's decision to grant him $1 million bond and confine him to house arrest. Fox News, "NYPD cop accused of spying for China ordered detained," 7 Oct. 2020 Hold down Shift while dragging a window to drop it into one of these zones, and confine it there. David Nield, Popular Science, "Make the most of your dual or ultrawide monitor setup," 1 Oct. 2020 Riot chose to curtail the number of venues, and confine the event to a single city, unlike previous years, so as to reduce travel and create a more contained bubble. Washington Post, "Here’s how League of Legends Esports plans to keep its players safe from covid-19 at Worlds," 25 Sep. 2020 Today, apparently more leery of getting directly involved, the EU declared Belarus’ Aug. 9 election invalid, sanctioned a few dozen top Belarusian officials, and will likely confine itself to verbal expressions of disapproval going forward. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why Russian aid for Lukashenko doesn’t end Belarus crisis," 15 Sep. 2020 De Guzman had good reason to confine his hacking to Manila residents. Geoff White, Wired, "The 20-Year Hunt for the Man Behind the Love Bug Virus," 12 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of confine


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1523, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for confine


Middle English confynyes, borrowed from Latin confīnia, plural of confīnium "common boundary, limit, border," from confīnis "having a common boundary" (from con- con- + -fīnis, adjective derivative of fīnis "boundary, limit, ending") + -ium, suffix of compounded nouns — more at final entry 1


borrowed from Middle French confiner "to be adjacent, restrain within limits," probably borrowed from Italian confinare, derivative of confine "boundary line, limit," noun derivative from neuter of Latin confīnis "having a common boundary" — more at confine entry 1

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Time Traveler for confine

Time Traveler

The first known use of confine was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Confine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for confine


How to pronounce confine (audio)

English Language Learners 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)


con·​fine | \ kən-ˈfīn How to pronounce confine (audio) \
confined; confining

Kids Definition of confine

1 : to keep within limits Her study of bears is confined to those in North America.
2 : to shut up : imprison
3 : to keep indoors She was confined by sickness.

Other Words from confine

confinement \ -​mənt \ noun
con·​fine | \ kən-ˈfīn How to pronounce confine (audio) \
confined; confining

Medical Definition of confine

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

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confined; confining

Legal Definition of confine

: to hold within a location specifically : imprison

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