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



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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 Williams can further refine his three-point shooting and play as a true stretch four. oregonlive, "Who replaces Chris Duarte, Eugene Omoruyi for Oregon men’s basketball in 2021-22?," 6 Apr. 2021 City staffers will use comments and suggestions made at the meeting to further refine the proposals, one of which could be presented to the City Council for approval. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Oceanside Harbor users unhappy with Police Department oversight," 4 Apr. 2021 After four years, Shpigelmacher said, the company is ready to refine its technique and prepare for human trials. Sam Dean, Los Angeles Times, "This L.A. start-up is building tiny injectable robots to attack tumors," 4 Mar. 2021 Once the campaign gains momentum, the government intends to use focus groups to help officials refine and target their digital advertising to communities that are disproportionally affected by the virus, Mr. Weber said. New York Times, "Trump Administration Plans a Rushed Effort to Encourage Americans to Be Vaccinated," 13 Dec. 2020 The spacecraft has been able to detect minute changes that would be hard to observe from Earth, which will help scientists refine their models of how the Yarkovsky effect influences asteroids and how close Bennu might pass by Earth. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Is About to Touch an Asteroid," 19 Oct. 2020 Some think that data could help scientists refine their understanding of Saturn’s origins and early evolution. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Cassini’s “Grand Finale” Will Be a Blaze of Glory," 14 Sep. 2017 And now, with the help of yachting director Matt Pegrum, Thibaud has been able to further refine his vision and bring his dream machine to fruition. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, "With a Glass-Bottom Pool and Two Jacuzzis, This 272-Foot Superyacht Concept Might Make You Forget the Ocean," 22 Mar. 2021 But some proved especially helpless at stopping the spread of COVID-19, despite having nine months to stockpile protective equipment and refine preventative measures. Michael Hill, Star Tribune, "Some NY nursing homes proved helpless in face of virus surge," 20 Mar. 2021

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

15 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on refine

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