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

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 The price of crude oil, which is refined into gasoline, spiked more than 4% to top $65 for a short period as traders absorbed news of the retaliatory attack Tuesday night. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "'Chill out': Gas prices not spiking due to Iran attack, but that could still change," 8 Jan. 2020 The board recommended the agencies refine their data collection; review and revise their policies and practices; and improve supervision and training. NBC News, "Report: California cops more likely to stop black drivers," 3 Jan. 2020 Quartz sand is refined into molten silicon with a purity of 99.999999999%. The Economist, "A look inside the factory around which the modern world turns," 18 Dec. 2019 Some of those steps refine interim recommendations released by the working group in June. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "NIH director pledges to move quickly on recommendations to stop sexual harassment," 13 Dec. 2019 The version of Jagged Little Pill that’s now playing on Broadway has been refined into a crowdpleaser that lands big emotional punches. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How Alanis Morissette’s Music Inspired a Trump-Era Musical," 11 Dec. 2019 But in 2019, growth at luxury labels selling refined, understated minimalism caught up to the maximalists, according to the latest luxury study from management consulting firm Bain & Company. Marc Bain, Quartzy, "The battle between minimalist and maximalist fashion has reached a new equilibrium," 7 Dec. 2019 Fitzpatrick refines that intuition during the week. Ben Shpigel, New York Times, "The Best N.F.L. Trade of the Season? Look to Pittsburgh," 4 Dec. 2019 But the definition has been revised and refined over recent years, muddling research on the foods. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Plant-based burgers are “ultra-processed” like dog food, meat-backed ads say," 3 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for refine

Time Traveler

The first known use of refine was in 1582

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Statistics for refine

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Refine.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for refine


How to pronounce refine (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for refine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with refine

Spanish Central: Translation of refine

Nglish: Translation of refine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refine for Arabic Speakers

Comments on refine

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