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

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Other Words from refine

refiner noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for refine


ameliorate, amend, better, enhance, enrich, help, improve, meliorate, perfect, upgrade



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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

Not only does this help the tone and texture of your skin, massage can also refine pores, clear out congestion, and wrangle breakouts. Deanna Pai, Glamour, "I Worked Out My Face for a Week, and It Was Exhausting," 17 May 2018 At Chula Vista, coaches refined Malone's start, explained phases of a race, even changed his breathing. David Woods, Indianapolis Star, "HSE sprinter Noah Malone has a vision that exceeds visual impairment," 17 May 2018 Since becoming the Duchess of Cambridge seven years ago, Kate's had time to refine her princess wardrobe and has gone to a handful of high-profile weddings, including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's, earlier this year. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "What Dress Will Kate Middleton Wear to Princess Eugenie's Wedding?," 8 Oct. 2018 City officials released the first draft of the new plan in 2015, and since then have been working with consultants and residents to refine the document. Phil Diehl,, "New Master Plan approved for Carlsbad's Village, Barrio," 11 July 2018 In future work, the team hopes to refine their drug and test it on more complex animals. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "New “Immunobiotic” Could Treat Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs," 6 July 2018 As more states look to refine their own distracted driving laws, there is some concern among driver safety proponents that laws crafted too specifically could need to be reworked again a few years down the road. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, "You can't stream video while driving, more states decide as distracted driving deaths rise," 28 June 2018 After breaking his foot in 2016, Simmons had a full year to refine his shooting form. Mike Sielski,, "The Sixers need to get tougher on their young stars | Mike Sielski," 18 May 2018 To refine this novel approach, Mr. Chaganty and Mr. Ohanian screened the movie for friends and peers extensively. Kevin Lincoln, WSJ, "The Sleeper Hit That Makes the Most of Screen Time," 19 Sep. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of refine

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for refine

Last Updated

24 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for refine

The first known use of refine was in 1582

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More Definitions for refine



English Language Learners Definition of refine

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)
: to improve (something) by making small changes


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.
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on refine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with refine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for refine

Spanish Central: Translation of refine

Nglish: Translation of refine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refine for Arabic Speakers

Comments on refine

What made you want to look up refine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an enemy or opponent

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