re·​fine | \ ri-ˈfīn How to pronounce refine (audio) \
refined; refining

Definition of refine

transitive verb

1 : to free (something, such as metal, sugar, or oil) from impurities or unwanted material
2 : to free from moral imperfection : elevate
3 : to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing refine a poetic style
4 : to reduce in vigor or intensity
5 : to free from what is coarse, vulgar, or uncouth

intransitive verb

1 : to become pure or perfected
2 : to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions

Other Words from refine

refiner noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for refine



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Examples of refine in a Sentence

The inventor of the machine spent years refining the design. The class is meant to help you refine your writing style.
Recent Examples on the Web Sugar was an incredibly lucrative crop for white planters and enslavers, who used slave labor to cut cane, boil it and refine it into sugar. Karin Wulf, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Apr. 2022 Atkins said lawmakers are waiting to get more details and will try to refine it through the budget process. Sarah Ravani, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Mar. 2022 Perdew, for example, continues to search for new intuitive qualities that can further refine functionals in the traditional way. Quanta Magazine, 7 Feb. 2022 Skyryse hopes to refine its technology in the coming years, further automating the operation of aircraft in ways that will reduce the dependency on air traffic controllers and piloting expertise. Ryan Young, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2021 As Warwick Fairfax, author of Crucible Leadership shared on my Live Brave podcast, our most difficult experiences hold immense power to refine us in positive ways. Dr Margie Warrell, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 Van Deusen said the department will refine its analysis in the coming weeks and share it with the public. Dallas News, 30 July 2021 In place of pricey one-on-one coaching, Gomez offers online courses to help educators refine their résumés and skill sets for other fields. Stephen Noonoo, The New Republic, 2 May 2022 Users can refine the name index by editing and adding correct names. Zoe Sottile, CNN, 3 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'refine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of refine

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Refine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for refine


re·​fine | \ ri-ˈfīn How to pronounce refine (audio) \
refined; refining

Kids Definition of refine

1 : to bring to a pure state refine sugar
2 : to make better : improve He's refining his recipe.


transitive verb
re·​fine | \ ri-ˈfīn How to pronounce refine (audio) \
refined; refining

Medical Definition of refine

: to free (as sugar or oil) from impurities or unwanted material

More from Merriam-Webster on refine

Nglish: Translation of refine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refine for Arabic Speakers


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