re·​fine | \ri-ˈfīn \
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

In many cases, the process has refined how cities pitch themselves and underlined investment in local tech talent, or led to unexpected opportunities after playing a part in one of the biggest corporate incentive contests in history. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Amazon HQ2: Why some cities feel like winners, despite losing," 28 Sep. 2018 Over the last three years, Crusan and other leaders of human exploration at NASA have quietly refined plans for the Gateway and, perhaps more importantly, crafted a rationale to build the outpost near the Moon. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "NASA says it’s building a gateway to the Moon—critics say it’s just a gate," 6 Sep. 2018 The real value in this work is refining theories of dark matter and the evolution of the cosmos. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Some of the Oldest Galaxies in the Universe Orbit the MIlky Way," 16 Aug. 2018 The show was further refined, journeyed to Broadway and London, toured nationally, got produced regionally and became a multimillion-dollar jukebox musical success. Christine Dolen, miamiherald, "'Million Dollar Quartet:' Whole lotta great music-makin' going on | Miami Herald," 14 May 2018 But Bridges, a Charlotte Hornets rookie who was the 12th overall pick Thursday, made a personal choice that a second season with Spartans coach Tom Izzo could refine him both in basketball and overall. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "Hornets' Miles Bridges considered turning pro last year. Why he didn't might surprise you," 22 June 2018 Chocolate swirls inside the melanger that conches and refines it. Carlos Frías, miamiherald, "Cuban coffee, cigars and chocolate? Little Havana opens a new chocolate factory," 15 May 2018 Sexton is plenty talented and should be able to refine himself into a useful player, if not necessarily a star. 13. Jeremy Woo,, "2018 NBA Mock Draft 7.0: Projecting All 60 Picks After Phoenix's Landmark Lottery Win," 15 May 2018 As filmmakers, Mark has traditionally pounded out first drafts while Jay refines them. Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, "Filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass’s New Book Explores Brotherly Love, With Occasional Sibling Rivalry," 7 May 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

17 Nov 2018

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 \
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 \
refined; refining

Medical Definition of refine 

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

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