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 paraphrase (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 All were drawn together by a continuous colonnade, culminating at one end in Jefferson’s great rotunda, a paraphrase of the Roman Pantheon that served as the university library. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, "Building Up Their Memory," 14 Oct. 2020 That’s a deft paraphrase of an old Greek mythic principle: Oblos (great wealth) leads to hubris (pride), inevitably followed by the goddess Nemesis (retribution). Ralph Benko, Fortune, "Donald Trump is a master of hypnotism. How he used the power on America—and then himself," 27 Sep. 2020 Alvim, a born-again Christian who found renewed faith while recovering from cancer, delivered a separate message about the initiative using a phrase that local media identified as a paraphrase of a 1933 speech by Goebbels. Washington Post, "Brazil fires top culture official over Nazi-linked comments," 18 Jan. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Few coaches understand the old Bum Phillips line — to paraphrase: You’re either fired or about to be — better than Claude Julien. Matt Porter,, "Checking in on the Bruins’ former Atlantic Division foes," 27 Feb. 2021 The new trailer from Pixar finds Luca and his new friend, Alberto, hiding their secret from everyone else in their seaside Italian town — where, to paraphrase another Pixar classic, fish are food, not friends. Justin Curto, Vulture, "Pixar’s Luca Is Call Me By Your Name With a Sea Monster–Size Twist," 25 Feb. 2021 To paraphrase O’Sullivan’s law, all public corporations that are not explicitly anti-woke will become woke over time, at the expense of their owners and of society writ large. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of December 7," 12 Dec. 2020 To paraphrase the late singer Kenny Rogers, there’ll be time enough for countin’ when the shots are done. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Come on, government. It shouldn’t be this hard getting COVID-19 vaccine into people’s arms," 25 Jan. 2021 This, to paraphrase Walton, is a meal too good for any but hunters or very honest men. Ted Trueblood, Field & Stream, "FS Classics: Advice to Cooks," 19 Dec. 2020 In other words, to paraphrase Rosa Brooks’ book, everything has become war and the military has become everything. Justin Sherman, Wired, "Trump's Un-American Failure to Protect Internet Freedom," 22 Oct. 2020 To paraphrase the immortal Terrell Owens, Antonio Ramiro Romo, the grandson of a Mexican immigrant from Coahuila, is and will always be my quarterback. Los Angeles Times, "Latinx Files: Thanksgiving (or Sansgiving) edition," 26 Nov. 2020 Tactics, to paraphrase his book, were central to Biden’s entire rationale for running. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Biden's moment of truth," 12 Nov. 2020

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

Cite this Entry

“Paraphrase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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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 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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Comments on paraphrase

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