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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Neither Vogt nor Ammann offered a new prediction, with both focusing instead on the need to continue to refine existing sensors and develop new ones. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "If you're up for riding in a robotaxi, General Motors' Cruise wants you to meet Origin — at some point," 24 Jan. 2020 There’s some truth to that old trope about designers always trying to refine their creations to their absolute core. Wired Staff, Wired, "One Wheel, Zero Buttons," 17 Jan. 2020 But technicians continued to refine their tools; now anyone with a smartphone can save high-quality audio. Eleanor Cummins, Popular Science, "Humans have been recording sound since before they could play it back," 9 Jan. 2020 Since the technology used for a satellite launch and an ICBM test is similar, Pinkston says, such a test could be used to refine their ICBM program. Time, "How North Korea's 'Christmas Gift' Statement Played on U.S. Fears," 27 Dec. 2019 For warnings For radar For reporting severe weather The mPing site is operated by the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma. The laboratory uses crowd-source reports to refine algorithms for NEXRAD radars. Leada Gore |, al, "Severe weather possible today: Best weather apps to track storms," 16 Dec. 2019 In addition to imaging screenings, researchers continue to refine chemoprevention, or the prescribing of drugs that lower a person’s risk of developing cancer. Lauren Caruba,, "MRI scans are better than mammograms for certain types of breast cancer screenings, researchers find," 13 Dec. 2019 Users have enjoyed more than 400,000 rides, even as Louisville officials have continued to refine the Public Works policy governing their use. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Your Bird ride may be changing. What to know about tweaks to Louisville's scooter rules," 14 Nov. 2019 But coach Steve Kerr will try to refine the young players and prepare them for better days., "The Knicks’ home opener against the Celtics on Oct. 26 was surreal, and that had little to do with the outcome.," 3 Nov. 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.

See More

First Known Use of refine

1582, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about refine

Time Traveler for refine

Time Traveler

The first known use of refine was in 1582

See more words from the same year

Statistics for refine

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Refine.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!