para·​phrase | \ ˈper-ə-ˌfrāz, 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 , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ adjective
paraphraser noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for paraphrase

Synonyms: Noun

rephrasing, restatement, restating, rewording, translating, translation

Synonyms: Verb

rephrase, restate, reword, translate

Antonyms: Noun

quotation, quote

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


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


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

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 Regularly, Ferry’s translation becomes a kind of paraphrase. Denis Feeney, New York Times, "David Ferry Won the National Book Award in His 80s. In His 90s, He Has Translated Virgil.," 5 Dec. 2017 Mr. Bishop said, referring to Dr. King’s paraphrase of the 19th-century abolitionist and Unitarian minister Theodore Parker. Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times, "Justice Department Weighs In Against Wells Fargo in a Whistle-Blower Suit," 6 June 2017 OK, that’s merely the paraphrase of Kelly’s comments to Sports Illustrated’s MMQB about the quarterback. Daniel Mano, The Mercury News, "Chip Kelly: Kaepernick’s protest last season was ‘zero distraction’," 31 Mar. 2017 That is author and retired pastor Eugene Peterson’s rendering of Matthew 5:37 in The Message, his popular paraphrase of the Bible that’s sold millions of copies and endeared him to Christians across the theological spectrum. Matthew Vines, Time, "A Beloved Former Pastor Retracted His Support of Same-Sex Marriage. It Will Harm LGBTQ People More Than He May Know," 14 July 2017 Safranski’s book (a best seller in Germany) is aimed squarely at a German readership of Bildungsbürger, educated and tolerant of abstractions and paraphrases. Michael Hofmann, New York Times, "He Built Roads. He Oversaw Mines. He Shrank the Deficit. He Was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.," 16 June 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one big deal may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Another Bad Deal for Bayer," 29 Nov. 2018 Harms thinks there is more wrong with the 2016 study than accidentally paraphrasing the wrong dissertation. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Acting like a psychopath is great for male CEOs, not so much for women," 26 Oct. 2018 To greatly paraphrase the iconic Dowager Countess: What is a movie? D. Elizabeth, Glamour, "The Downton Abbey Movie Officially Has a Release Date," 19 Sep. 2018 Maybe that’s because, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, cocaine is where the money is. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "A Phony Peace in Colombia," 23 Sep. 2018 To paraphrase some of Lily’s narration, there are three kinds of Salemites: a few good men and women, a few sadistic creeps, and a mass of bystanders who happily participate in misogynistic hate mobs. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Assassination Nation is a vicious, cathartic horror film about misogyny," 21 Sep. 2018 Finally, your citation by Dahl that ‘life is too short to be defined by hate’ (paraphrased) chills me to the bone. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Dem revolt threatens another incumbent," 12 Sep. 2018 To paraphrase Mark Twain, don’t let school get in the way of an education. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "He failed high school chemistry and algebra. Now a doctor, he went to his alma mater to tell graduating seniors about success.," 18 June 2018 To paraphrase the conductor Gustavo Dudamel, music is a fundamental human right. Peter Dobrin,, "The Philadelphia Orchestra's tour of Europe and Israel is done: What did we learn?," 15 June 2018

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

The first known use of paraphrase was in 1548

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More Definitions for paraphrase



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 \
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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Comments on paraphrase

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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