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 Silymarin CF is designed to neutralize free radicals, reduce skin oiliness, refine skin texture and decrease fine lines and dark spots. Zoe Malin, NBC News, "New and Notable: Latest launches from Dell, Athleta, BirchBox and more," 22 Feb. 2021 But the popularity of the MSR platform has driven engineers to refine the mechanics and create compatible cartridges that now allow these rifles to reach out to distances never before thought possible. Richard Mann, Field & Stream, "The 7 Best Coyote Rifles for Any Budget," 18 Feb. 2021 What Zoom launched is actually a 30-day technical preview; the company will continue to refine the offering through next year. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Zoom Finally Has End-to-End Encryption. Here's How to Use It," 2 Nov. 2020 Robertson, 21, is an offensively skilled player who the Stars want to refine his game away from the puck. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Stars forward Jason Robertson returns to lineup Thursday night vs. Blue Jackets," 4 Feb. 2021 There is plenty more work to be done, and more seismic data is needed to refine this hypothesis. Quanta Magazine, "Rumbles on Mars Raise Hopes of Underground Magma Flows," 1 Feb. 2021 For example, Shiv Pillai, an immunologist at Harvard Medical School, studies lymph nodes and their germinal centers, where B cells refine antibodies to a specific pathogen. Fedor Kossakovski, Science, "What we’ve learned about how our immune system fights COVID-19," 29 Dec. 2020 Search history data, for example, is collected to refine recommendation algorithms or build online profiles, not to catch criminals. Sidney Fussell, Wired, "How Your Digital Trails Wind Up in the Police’s Hands," 28 Dec. 2020 The promise of fully driverless cars has faded in the past few years, as developers struggle to refine the technology. Mike Colias, WSJ, "Your Next Car May Let You Drive Hands-Free. Is That a Good Thing?," 26 Dec. 2020

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

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 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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