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.
b : imprison
2 : to keep within limits will confine my remarks to one subject

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 In one adventure, Gerard is penned within Dartmoor prison, an institution opened in 1809 to confine soldiers and sailors captured by Britain in a war with France that had already lasted 16 years. Stephen Brumwell, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2022 First the eastern and then the western halves of the city were to close businesses, suspend public transportation and confine residents in their buildings so that mass testing could be carried out. New York Times, 1 Apr. 2022 The lockdown of China’s most populous city, which started in parts of Shanghai 10 days ago and has since been expanded to confine practically all of its 26 million residents at home, has massively disrupted daily life and business. NBC News, 6 Apr. 2022 Finding smart ways to control and confine that plasma will be key to unlocking the potential of nuclear fusion, which has been mooted as the clean energy source of the future for decades. Amit Katwala, Wired, 16 Feb. 2022 Organization papers filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission confine the PAC to independent spending on races for governor and the five other statewide constitutional offices. Mark Pazniokas,, 14 Feb. 2022 Imagine never having to wear a brassiere, a garment designed to confine, control and hide the human breast! Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 Last season's schedule was constricted to intra-division games in an effort to confine teams geographically. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 12 Oct. 2021 Even if vaccines are truly necessary, why will the ETS confine the mandate to employers with 100 or more workers? Joel Zinberg, National Review, 14 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The works do not solely confine themselves to questions of gender but are also a celebration of creativity, openness, curiosity and the diversity of human existence. Rica Cerbarano, Vogue, 26 Feb. 2022 Don’t confine yourself to furniture designed specifically for small spaces. Washington Post, 13 Oct. 2021 Even those American trainers who manage multiple strings in various states typically confine their operations to the racetrack, too busy to bother with breeding, breaking horses, etc. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 28 Apr. 2022 Actress and comedienne Jessica Williams, however, has never been one to confine herself to the tedium of convention. Shamira Ibrahim, Essence, 6 Apr. 2022 If the Taliban continue to restrict women’s movement, the policies could effectively confine women to their homes, advocates say — a move reminiscent of the group’s repressive rule in the 1990s. New York Times, 23 Mar. 2022 Don’t confine yourself to furniture designed specifically for small spaces. Helen Carefoot,, 6 Mar. 2022 Residents of Shanghai are struggling to get meat, rice and other food supplies under anti-coronavirus controls that confine most of its 25 million people in their homes, fueling frustration as the government tries to contain a spreading outbreak. Joe Mcdonald, ajc, 7 Apr. 2022 Our research focuses on the approach taken by JET – using powerful magnetic fields to confine atoms until they are heated to a high enough temperature for them to fuse. David Donovan, The Conversation, 4 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Confine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for confine


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


transitive verb
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


transitive verb
confined; confining

Legal Definition of confine

: to hold within a location specifically : imprison

More from Merriam-Webster on confine

Nglish: Translation of confine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confine for Arabic Speakers


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