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para·​phrase ˈper-ə-ˌfrāz How to pronounce paraphrase (audio)
: a restatement of a text, passage, or work giving the meaning in another form
The teacher asked the students to write a paraphrase of the poem.
: the use or process of paraphrasing in studying or teaching composition
paraphrase, which aims rather at recapturing the general impression of a foreign workTimes Literary Supplement


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paraphrased; paraphrasing

intransitive verb

: to make a paraphrase

transitive verb

: to make a paraphrase of
paraphrasable adjective
paraphraser noun

Did you know?

When we paraphrase, we provide a version that can exist beside the original (rather than replace it). We paraphrase all the time. When you tell a friend what someone else has said, you're almost always paraphrasing, since you're not repeating the exact words. If you go to hear a talk, you might paraphrase the speaker's main points afterward for your friends. And when writing a paper on a short story, you might start off your essay with a paraphrase of the plot. Paraphrasing is especially useful when dealing with poetry, since poetic language is often difficult and poems may have meanings that are hard to pin down.

Example Sentences

Noun This is just a paraphrase of what he said, not an exact quote. your essays on human rights should have some original thought and not be simply a paraphrase of what's in the textbook Verb I'm paraphrasing, but he did say something like that. could you paraphrase your diagnosis of my medical condition, using simpler language?
Recent Examples on the Web
This is reputedly a paraphrase of an assertion of Genghis Khan. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 28 Apr. 2011 These lyrics do a lot of work, work that transcends paraphrase. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2022 This is not an unfair paraphrase. Sean Carroll, Discover Magazine, 5 Apr. 2011 That was a paraphrase by me, but very close. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 15 Feb. 2023 Former Texans offensive lineman Wade Smith explained the value of the former players showing up to Lovie Smith’s introductory presser on Sports Radio 610 (extreme paraphrase) as sort of like family that had a disagreement but still desperately wants each other to succeed. Stephanie Stradley, Chron, 26 July 2022 Gaines-Friedler told USA TODAY that the post was a paraphrase of remarks Whitmer gave at a private fund-raiser held on Zoom. Anna Staver, USA TODAY, 29 Oct. 2020 This is a perfect paraphrase of the vision that Marcellin Berthelot was promulgating exactly 120 years earlier. Richard Faulk, Discover Magazine, 4 June 2015 The fact-check flagged a misquotation that should have been rendered as a paraphrase. Erik Wemple, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2022
To paraphrase Ned Stark, Love Is Blind season 5 is coming. Naydeline Mejia, Women's Health, 17 Apr. 2023 To paraphrase the classic Coppola saga, in mafia country, women are more dangerous than shotguns. Peter Debruge, Variety, 12 Apr. 2023 Related: Archibald: Alabama gives 6 minutes to consider life, death and freedom The assessments and scoring are real, though paraphrased. John Archibald |, al, 26 Jan. 2023 On the long trails of my past, booze was self-care, the thing my mind needed, to paraphrase Parr. Grayson Haver Currin, Outside Online, 30 Dec. 2022 In part, a large portion of society has been excluded from the tremendous increase in wealth generated by the system, leading to greater inequality as the return on capital is greater than the return on labor, to paraphrase French economist Thomas Piketty. Agustino Fontevecchia, Forbes, 1 June 2022 An article on April 14 about the closure of the last three nuclear power plants in Germany incorrectly paraphrased comments made by a climate policy analyst about the impact of the 2022 drought and heat wave on Europe’s nuclear facilities. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2023 And so, to paraphrase the political scientist Dan Horowitz, Israel’s founding leaders decided not to decide. Joshua Leifer, The New York Review of Books, 13 Apr. 2023 This aspect of the novel doesn’t lend itself to paraphrase, but certain details appear to suggest that Kettle’s neighbors are apparitions from the nineteen-sixties—or that Kettle himself has somehow stepped back thirty years into the past. Giles Harvey, The New Yorker, 20 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle French, from Latin paraphrasis, from Greek, from paraphrazein to paraphrase, from para- + phrazein to point out

First Known Use


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of paraphrase was in 1548

Dictionary Entries Near paraphrase

Cite this Entry

“Paraphrase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
para·​phrase ˈpar-ə-ˌfrāz How to pronounce paraphrase (audio)
: a way of stating something (as a written work) again by giving the meaning in different words


2 of 2 verb
paraphrased; paraphrasing
: to give the meaning in different words
paraphrased the author's account
paraphraser noun

More from Merriam-Webster on paraphrase

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