para·​phrase | \ ˈper-ə-ˌfrāz How to pronounce paraphrase (audio) , ˈpa-rə- \

Definition of paraphrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : 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.
2 : 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


paraphrased; paraphrasing

Definition of paraphrase (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to make a paraphrase

transitive verb

: to make a paraphrase of

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Other Words from paraphrase


paraphrasable \ ˌper-​ə-​ˈfrā-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce paraphrasable (audio) , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ adjective
paraphraser noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for paraphrase

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

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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.

Examples of paraphrase in a Sentence

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?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So do the devices that novelists as different as Ferrante and Knausgaard rely on: characters, dialogue, incident, chronology, and, especially, the rendering of everyday life through precise, detail-flecked paraphrase. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, "Sex and Power in “The Catholic School”," 19 Aug. 2019 Those sayings included Wright’s paraphrase of some advice from Chicago author Nelson Algren. Graydon Megan,, "Joseph Wright, environmental lawyer and competitive sailor, dies at 81," 10 Nov. 2019 This is a Dickinson, played by Hailee Steinfeld, who takes midnight carriage rides with Death (the rapper Wiz Khalifa), and denounces the patriarchy as — to use a genteel paraphrase — bunk. Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, "A Very Modern Emily Dickinson (Twerking Included)," 30 Oct. 2019 The simplest answer to a shopper’s dilemma might be a paraphrase of the advice that food writer Michael Pollan offered to those of us perplexed by our mealtime choices: Buy clothes. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "The Troubling Ethics of Fashion in the Age of Climate Change," 18 Nov. 2019 To protect identities, here are some paraphrases from online posts: My doctor forced me to taper down opioid therapy below a level that had for years given me relief from pain and good quality of life for years. STAT, "Stop persecuting doctors for legitimately prescribing opioids for chronic pain," 28 June 2019 Similarly, if their paraphrase is so at odds with what McCabe said, why aren't Democrats making a bigger deal out of it? Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "The simplest, most fundamental question about the Nunes memo still has no answer. Why?," 26 Feb. 2018 The memo's main substantiation of that claim was a contested paraphrase of testimony that top FBI official Andrew McCabe gave behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee — not even a direct quote. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Trump’s increasingly desperate, tortured claims about the Russia probe," 19 May 2018 Democrats quickly claimed the paraphrase was wrong. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "The simplest, most fundamental question about the Nunes memo still has no answer. Why?," 26 Feb. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Jenkins, in that 2015 interview, was paraphrased saying Notre Dame would simply stop selling jerseys with numbers. Mike Berardino, Indianapolis Star, "Notre Dame leaders mostly support name, image and likeness push -- with some caveats," 29 Oct. 2019 Chaat is, to paraphrase chef Thomas Keller, all about finesse — and the scene in Sunnyvale more than holds up its end of the bargain. Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, "For the Bay Area’s best chaat, our restaurant critic heads to Sunnyvale," 5 Jan. 2013 Alex and Bradley choose to exclude themselves from Cory’s narrative (to paraphrase another you-go-girl icon). Kristen Baldwin,, "Jennifer Aniston delivers a forceful TV return in The Morning Show," 28 Oct. 2019 The Leadership Principles were never paraphrased; when a question over wording arose, the laminated cards were often whipped out. Charles Duhigg, The New Yorker, "Is Amazon Unstoppable?," 10 Oct. 2019 To paraphrase John Paul Jones, Bloomberg has not yet begun to spend. Willie Brown,, "Who can beat Trump? Michael Bloomberg deserves Democrats’ buy-in," 30 Nov. 2019 With six games left, anything can still happen but to paraphrase Baker Mayfield, somehow what should have felt like a big win ended up feeling like a big loss. cleveland, "Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers fight even crosses the blue line: Crowquill," 17 Nov. 2019 To paraphrase a favorite TV show, dinner is coming. Ben Crandell,, "Weekend preview: 10 great South Florida fun runs, a new happy hour at the Wharf, date night with WFOR’s Jim Berry," 13 Nov. 2019 To paraphrase the literary critic Harold Bloom, Sontag suffered from the anxiety of aspirations. Peter Tonguette, National Review, "Susan Sontag’s Lifelong Literary Pose," 24 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paraphrase.' 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 paraphrase


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for paraphrase

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for paraphrase

Time Traveler

The first known use of paraphrase was in 1548

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Statistics for paraphrase

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paraphrase.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for paraphrase


How to pronounce paraphrase (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of paraphrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a statement that says something that another person has said or written in a different way



English Language Learners Definition of paraphrase (Entry 2 of 2)

: to say (something that someone else has said or written) using different words


para·​phrase | \ ˈper-ə-ˌfrāz How to pronounce paraphrase (audio) \
paraphrased; paraphrasing

Kids Definition of paraphrase

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to give the meaning of in different words



Kids Definition of paraphrase (Entry 2 of 2)

: a way of stating something again by giving the meaning in different words

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