confine

1 of 2

noun

con·​fine ˈkän-ˌfīn How to pronounce confine (audio)
also
kən-ˈfīn How to pronounce confine (audio)
1
confines plural
a
: something (such as borders or walls) that encloses
outside the confines of the office or hospitalW. 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 groupFrank Newman
2
a
archaic : restriction
b
obsolete : prison

confine

2 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: to hold within a location
Dikes confined the floodwaters.
b
2
: to keep within limits
will confine my remarks to one subject
confiner noun
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
Faced with a ticking clock, a cruel death awaits him should his fellow countrymen fail to pay his ransom soon; but within the confines of his cell, Cervantes discovers a surprising refuge — the art of storytelling. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 30 Jan. 2024 Questions are asked within the confines of the women in the story, the answers clear to them, answers built from both love and rage. David John Chávez, The Mercury News, 30 Jan. 2024 The waltz from Howl’s Moving Castle is as distinctive as any body of cinematic music from the past 20 years, bouncing with a sense of ease and delight, breaking free from the confines of the dark, sometimes tragic film in which it’s featured. Vulture, 24 Jan. 2024 Reservations were established when colonizing governments violently removed indigenous people from their property and forced them to live within the confines of smaller reserved plots of land. Maggie Freleng, Rolling Stone, 29 Jan. 2024 The fictitious show comes complete with an opening musical theme and studio audience laughter, though its parody goes beyond the confines of this genre in ways that are, at least initially, intriguing. Siddhant Adlakha, Variety, 23 Jan. 2024 Beyond Mindset: The Essence Of The Inner Game The inner game transcends the confines of mere mindset. Meridith Alexander, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 The question of Trump’s eligibility has taken on new prominence in recent weeks, and gone beyond the confines of legal scholars and cable TV talking heads. Anthony Man, Sun Sentinel, 3 Jan. 2024 While Esau seemed to see something admirable in Bass from their day-one encounter (when Reeves was still under the confines of slavery), an unfortunate turn of events toward the end of episode one would forever make Esau a mortal enemy in Bass’ eyes. Demetrius Patterson, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Dec. 2023
Verb
One of the community’s biggest frustrations has been the limits of the Army Corps’ removal mission, which was confined to a structure’s ash footprint. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, 7 Feb. 2024 Never mind that, as English demographer and anthropologist Rebecca Sear has written, family bonds and the raising of children across societies are generally not confined to an isolated family unit, but instead depend on a complex web of relationships in and out of the family. Carolina A. Miranda, Los Angeles Times, 6 Feb. 2024 According to one study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, dog allergens are not confined to homes with canine residents but can be found in up to half of homes without dogs. Anna Nordseth, Discover Magazine, 5 Feb. 2024 But the congestion isn’t just confined to the cities. Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman, 31 Jan. 2024 As a teenager, I was confined to a wheelchair for six weeks or so after having surgery on both feet to remove bone fragments. David Harsanyi, National Review, 25 Jan. 2024 While other fighters are confined to a single plane, Tekken allows players to strafe around their opponents, adding deeper dimension to movement. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 23 Jan. 2024 Right now, besides some camping cookware, Stanley’s products are confined to the beverage-and-container space. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 30 Jan. 2024 But their support was largely confined to the country’s Zaidi Shia population in the north. Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar, Foreign Affairs, 29 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'confine.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

1523, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near confine

Cite this Entry

“Confine.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/confine. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

confine

verb
con·​fine
kən-ˈfīn
confined; confining
1
: to keep within limits : restrict
confined the message to twenty words
2
a
: to shut up : imprison
confined for life
b
: to keep indoors
confined with a cold
confinement
kən-ˈfīn-mənt
noun
confiner noun

Medical Definition

confine

transitive verb
con·​fine kən-ˈfīn How to pronounce confine (audio)
confined; confining
: to keep from leaving accustomed quarters (as one's room or bed) under pressure of infirmity, childbirth, or detention

Legal Definition

confine

transitive verb
con·​fine
confined; confining
: to hold within a location
specifically : imprison

More from Merriam-Webster on confine

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