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

The blood biomarker method could be refined in a way that might help doctors and moms, said Louis Muglia, co-director of the Perinatal Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Why doctors are so bad at predicting pregnancy due dates," 9 June 2018 The device, which scientists validated in pigs, remains a prototype and needs to be refined before it could be used in people. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "Swallow this: A sensor could monitor gut health via engineered bacteria — and beam results to a smartphone," 24 May 2018 As a bonus, their restaurant is as beautifully decorated as their menu is refined. Audrey Gorden, RedEye Chicago, "A guide to eating 2017 James Beard Award-winning food in Chicago," 24 June 2017 Algorithms refine these data to describe places and phenomena on the Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere. Melinda Laituri, Scientific American, "Should We Always Trust What We See in Satellite Images?," 4 June 2018 In the miniseries she’s portrayed as a tomboy who grew up on a cattle station, and who fiercely resents the school’s efforts to refine her. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Picnic at Hanging Rock," 29 May 2018 Once Sussman / Prejza came aboard, these ideas would be refined and repeated in signs, badges, pictograms, uniforms, merchandise, and event interiors with a more precise hierarchy of type, symbol, and color. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Lessons from LA’s 1984 Summer Olympics," 17 May 2018 Even when a technology works, proving its commercial viability, refining it, and attracting private investment to scale up production takes time and effort. Mark Trumbull, The Christian Science Monitor, "Even in Trump era, green energy innovation is sparking, not sputtering," 27 Apr. 2018 What usually happens is this: Authors submit their manuscripts, the manuscripts go to editors who help to refine them and shape them, and from there the book goes into production and copy editing. Constance Grady, Vox, "Book publishing’s fact-checking failure, as illustrated by the Sally Kohn controversy," 20 Apr. 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

22 Sep 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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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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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