con·​fine | \ ˈkän-ˌfīn 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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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 Also, the 1988 race was the final presidential campaign run strictly within the confines of old media. David Mark, Washington Examiner, "Book Review: Presidential race once deemed most negative of modern times now looks quaint," 2 Feb. 2020 Best Cyber Week Tech Deals Naturally, tech and electronics cover so many devices and products that many fall outside the confines of laptops, TVs, tablets, phones, and so on. NBC News, "Best tech sales for Cyber Week 2019," 3 Dec. 2019 Outside the confines of a comedy club, people who are speaking tend to laugh more than their interlocutors. Emily Langer, Washington Post, "Robert Provine, scholar of laughter, yawns and hiccups, dies at 76," 19 Oct. 2019 The milestone achievement by Mr. Leonov, a major in the Soviet Air Force at the time, showed that men could survive in space outside the confines of their craft and presumably walk on the moon one day. Richard Goldstein, New York Times, "Aleksei Leonov, First to Walk in Space, Dies at 85," 11 Oct. 2019 Outside the confines of 4chan, there is probably nobody in America more partial to conspiracy theories than Trump. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Rudy Giuliani Is a One-Man Wrecking Crew," 2 Oct. 2019 The company took a food truck that had formerly been used by Steak 'n Shake, added another fryer for chicken tenders, computer equipment for taking orders, and began training employees on the intricacies of food prep inside the truck’s confines. William Thornton |, al, "Milo’s Burger Bus brings the sauce to your neighborhood," 20 Jan. 2020 Or in the cozy confines of a walk-in, formerly refrigerated, box. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Arizona's coolest campsites: How to book an Airstream, a bubble tent or an alpaca farm," 10 Jan. 2020 This is key — there’s no better relief for the cramped interior confines of your day-to-day than fresh air and sunlight. Washington Post, "Most Americans hate winter. Here’s what they’re missing.," 7 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The virus currently appears too contagious to be completely confined. Marc Siegel, National Review, "How Bad Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Be?," 5 Feb. 2020 Additional efforts by the prosecutor's office to confine Swift also failed. Amir Vera And Konstantin Toropin, CNN, "The suspected shooter in Kansas City could have been imprisoned on a previous gun charge. A change in Missouri gun laws set him free," 22 Jan. 2020 But the backlash from his assassination spurred U.S. commanders to confine their forces to base; operations against ISIS were suspended. Karim Sadjadpour, Time, "Why the U.S. Assassination of Soleimani is a Windfall for Iran's Mullahs," 9 Jan. 2020 Her daughter, Alejandra, who is blind and autistic, had to be confined to back bedrooms for fear of tripping over unfinished construction and boxes of materials. Rebekah L. Sanders, azcentral, "How The Arizona Republic's Call for Action saved readers $562,000 in 2019," 26 Dec. 2019 Who said that 2020 color trends for your home had to be confined to decor and new splashes of paint? Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "Here’s How To Incorporate Pantone's Color of the Year Into Your Home In 2020," 16 Dec. 2019 These findings seriously changed our understanding of cancer, which was previously thought to be confined to cell mutations within individuals. Douglas Main, National Geographic, "Rare cancers spreading among sea creatures have scientists perplexed," 8 Nov. 2019 The best way to do that is to confine the WSU offense to the sideline. oregonlive, "Best way to ground Wazzu’s Air Raid? Control the ball and keep it on the sideline: Issues & Answers," 24 Oct. 2019 Crews were able to confine the flames to that room and had them under control within about 15 minutes. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Valencia Park apartment fire injures one, causes $225K in damage," 14 Oct. 2019

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

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Confine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 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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