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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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 Thinking within the confines of a circular economy poses one of the biggest creative challenges of our generation, and old habits die hard. Ronna Chao, Quartz, "I helped create a unique upcycling system—but it won’t solve fashion’s waste problem," 10 Sep. 2019 All of the interaction between Charlie and his parents – done within the confines of their spacious kitchen – are a mixture of satire, pomposity, tolerance/intolerance – and a generous dose of hypocrisy. Joanne Engelhardt, The Mercury News, "Review: So many layers in Los Altos Stage Company’s ‘Admissions’," 9 Sep. 2019 All of those factors, plus the recent introduction of Android apps into the ecosystem, have made Chromebooks popular with younger users, teachers, and anyone who works and plays primarily within the confines of the Chrome Web browser. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Guidemaster: How to buy a Chromebook, plus our best picks," 7 Sep. 2019 So unless Biles can find a way to flip or twist more quickly, or gather more speed within the confines of the mat, her triple-double just might represent tumbling's peak. Stanley Kay,, "Four Questions That Will Define the U.S. Open," 22 Aug. 2019 But within the confines of Broward, plenty of people had a favorite spot. Dan Sweeney,, "And the best place to see a sunset in Broward County is...," 13 Aug. 2019 As the testimony began, Mueller complied with his promise to stay within the confines of the report, but the stakes remained high for both sides. Alana Abramson, Time, "Mueller’s Testimony Isn’t Expected to Deliver Bombshells. Here’s Why It Still Matters," 24 July 2019 Tomorrowland is not just a big deal simply within the confines of the massive festival site. Brittany Gaston, Billboard, "15 Years In, Tomorrowland Is a Spectacle of Both Massive Size and Thoughtful Detail," 23 July 2019 That kind of community effort is perfectly within the confines of the law, said Marc J. Moore, the Dallas ICE field director, in a statement. Obed Manuel, Dallas News, "Dallas immigration activists mobilize FIRE to counter fear around Trump’s ICE sweeps," 4 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In other words, to be effective, Warren’s wealth tax would need to be vigorously enforced, confined to the ultra-rich, and safeguarded from congressional attacks. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Growing Debate Over Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax," 12 Sep. 2019 But these attacks are not fringe affairs confined to internet hinterlands; they are designed to propel anti-LGBTQ talking points into the mainstream. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "When the State Enforces “Straight Pride”," 4 Sep. 2019 Our purchases there were usually confined to bargain-bin paints. Bulletin Board, Twin Cities, "Sunday Bulletin Board: Four boys at a driving range, swinging as hard as they can. What could possibly go wrong?," 18 Aug. 2019 Being confined to a certain job helped workers reinforce their expertise with a specific machine. Christopher Leonard, ProPublica, "Rising Profits, Rising Injuries: The Safety Crisis at Koch Industries’ Georgia-Pacific," 8 Aug. 2019 In outings confined to one inning, Givens has a 2.81 ERA. Nathan Ruiz,, "Orioles closer Mychal Givens escapes one hot stove, facing another as trade deadline nears," 28 July 2019 But the nation largely understood segregation to be an issue confined to the South. Jon Hale, The Conversation, "The Supreme Court decision that kept suburban schools segregated," 24 July 2019 For matter, Lanyon’s team used a so-called trapped ion—a single calcium ion confined to an optical cavity using electromagnetic fields. Anil Ananthaswamy, Scientific American, "The Quantum Internet Is Emerging, One Experiment at a Time," 19 June 2019 In flow batteries, the chemical reactions still take place at the electrodes, but the chemicals reside in solution, rather than being confined to electrodes. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Researchers make a robotic fish with a battery for blood," 19 June 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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Statistics for confine

Last Updated

18 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for confine

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

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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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a calculated move

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