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: 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 But the earth did, in fact, keep turning—which means millions of people are being forced to celebrate another trip around the sun from the confines of their homes. Erin Parker, Glamour, "31 Quarantine Birthday Gift Ideas for Your Friends Celebrating in Isolation," 27 Apr. 2020 Many different places around the state and the world are offering virtual tours to be able to take in these spaces from the confines of their home. London Gibson, Indianapolis Star, "Here are 50 ways to celebrate 50 years of Earth Day (from your home during the pandemic)," 17 Apr. 2020 Followers of Carrelli's Instagram jams can usually see their songs within a day from the friendly confines of her kitchen. Sierra Newton,, "Coronavirus in Ohio: Kindness, levity in chaos - mud puddles, Saturday Hoops, boosts up," 23 Mar. 2020 Billie Eilish is a being who lives outside of the confines of society's fashion and beauty standards. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Billie Eilish is Wearing a Gucci Ankle Pillow and I'm Lowkey Confused," 26 June 2019 In our new age of uncertainty, the example of Afghans adapting to the constant presence of war – finding purpose, meaning, and joy within the confines of mutual hardship – holds useful lessons. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Living in a war zone: What it teaches about surviving a pandemic," 29 Apr. 2020 The threat of the coronavirus sweeping through the tightly cramped confines of prisons and jails has prompted the release of thousands of prisoners, including more than 1,000 federal inmates. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort asks to serve sentence from home due to coronavirus," 15 Apr. 2020 The past month has been an experiment in recreating daily routines within the confines of your home. Braelyn Wood,, "This At-Home Facial Peel Tackles Wrinkles and Dark Spots for More Radiant Skin," 13 Apr. 2020 Since social distancing became a thing, everyone’s been trying to find creative ways to have fun while stuck within the confines of their homes. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Halle Berry Defends A Video Of Her Son Wearing Heels: 'It's Harmless Fun!'," 6 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Administrative reviews, then, would no longer be confined only to members of the police force. Amelia Pak-harvey, Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis mayor says police department will get body cameras, proposes review board," 12 May 2020 Toledo police enforcement has not been confined to partygoers. Joshua Kaplan, ProPublica, "In Some of Ohio’s Most Populous Areas, Black People Were at Least 4 Times as Likely to Be Charged With Stay-at-Home Violations as Whites," 8 May 2020 After a sudden heart attack, Harry is confined to rest in bed at the beach house, and starts seeing Erica in a new light. Serena Tara, Marie Claire, "The Best Summer Movies of All Time," 5 May 2020 Now, you're kind of confined to this, what sounds like a lovely cabin in the Berkshires. Condé Nast Traveler, "Catching Up with Catherine Cohen: Women Who Travel Podcast," 5 May 2020 With the fashion industry estimated to be responsible for , climate concern is no longer confined to waifish hippies ( and specious weight loss claims notwithstanding). Alden Wicker, Harper's BAZAAR, "Can Sustainable Fashion and Inclusive Sizing Coexist?," 30 Apr. 2020 Nor would this messaging tactic be confined to presidential tweets. Joseph O’neill, The New York Review of Books, "Brand New Dems?," 29 Apr. 2020 Residents with symptoms were confined within the same buildings. Julia Fair,, "An NKY nursing home's a COVID-19 hotspot with 13 deaths. Here's what's being done to help.," 29 Apr. 2020 We are confined to an old, but comfortable, house on a lot 25 feet wide by 100 feet long in Bernal Heights. Carl Nolte,, "A backyard during stay-home orders offers small, wondrous surprises," 25 Apr. 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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Statistics for confine

Last Updated

16 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Confine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on confine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for confine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with confine

Spanish Central: Translation of confine

Nglish: Translation of confine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confine for Arabic Speakers

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