re·​strain | \ ri-ˈstrān How to pronounce restrain (audio) \
restrained; restraining; restrains

Definition of restrain

transitive verb

1a : to prevent from doing, exhibiting, or expressing something restrained the child from jumping
b : to limit, restrict, or keep under control try to restrain your anger
2 : to moderate or limit the force, effect, development, or full exercise of restrain trade
3 : to deprive of liberty especially : to place under arrest or restraint

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Other Words from restrain

restrainable \ ri-​ˈstrā-​nə-​bəl How to pronounce restrain (audio) \ adjective
restrainer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for restrain

restrain, check, curb, bridle mean to hold back from or control in doing something. restrain suggests holding back by force or persuasion from acting or from going to extremes. restrained themselves from laughing check implies restraining or impeding a progress, activity, or impetus. trying to check government spending curb suggests an abrupt or drastic checking. learn to curb your appetite bridle implies keeping under control by subduing or holding in. bridle an impulse to throw the book down

Examples of restrain in a Sentence

He could not restrain the dog from attacking. He could restrain himself no longer. Hospital orderlies needed to restrain the patient. He was restrained and placed in a holding cell. He could barely restrain his anger. The manufacturer took measures to restrain costs.
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Recent Examples on the Web For each test, the group would set up a different contraption of webbing or straps to restrain a mannequin and send the creature out for a trial. Rachel Lance, Wired, "A Race Car Crash From Hell—and the Science That Saved Its Driver," 6 Dec. 2020 Waid and Blake arrived after Davis had removed Stryker from his cab and said the truck driver fought attempts by officers to restrain him. al, "Court rejects immunity for Alabama officers who broke man’s jaw," 22 Oct. 2020 And here and there, there are glimpses of people trying to restrain others. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, "Inside the Capitol Riot: What the Parler Videos Reveal," 17 Jan. 2021 There were maybe 20 of the rioters in the hallway and only a handful of police trying to restrain them. New York Times, "11 Journalists on Covering the Capitol Siege: ‘This Could Get Ugly’," 9 Jan. 2021 Another 52 motorists were cited for failing to properly restrain children in a car seat during the campaign, which ran Nov. 16 to 29. Tim Harlow, Star Tribune, "More than 1,500 cited during statewide seat belt crackdown," 8 Dec. 2020 In Europe, several governments have brought back even tougher restrictions that will likely restrain the economy. Ken Sweet, USA TODAY, "US stocks open higher, are headed for another weekly gain," 13 Nov. 2020 In Europe, several governments have brought back even tougher restrictions that will likely restrain the economy. Arkansas Online, "Worsening pandemic sends stocks lower," 12 Nov. 2020 For market sentiment to shift in Turkey’s favor, authorities would need to contain growing geopolitical risks and deliver on policies that could restrain double-digit inflation that’s ratcheted up pressure on the lira. Asli Kandemir,, "JPMorgan Calls Turnaround on Turkey as More Borrowers Return," 20 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'restrain.' 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 restrain

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for restrain

Middle English restraynen, from Anglo-French restreindre, from Latin restringere to restrain, restrict, from re- + stringere to bind tight — more at strain

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Time Traveler for restrain

Time Traveler

The first known use of restrain was in the 14th century

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Statistics for restrain

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Restrain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for restrain



English Language Learners Definition of restrain

: to prevent (a person or animal) from doing something
: to prevent (a person or animal) from moving by using physical force
: to keep (something) under control


re·​strain | \ ri-ˈstrān How to pronounce restrain (audio) \
restrained; restraining

Kids Definition of restrain

1 : to keep from doing something I wanted to speak, but restrained myself.
2 : to keep back : curb He couldn't restrain his laughter.


transitive verb
re·​strain | \ ri-ˈstrān How to pronounce restrain (audio) \

Legal Definition of restrain

1a : to prevent from doing something — see also restraining order at order sense 3b
b : to limit, restrict, or keep under control
2 : to moderate or limit the force, effect, development, or full exercise of
3 : to deprive of liberty and especially of physical movement

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