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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web At the same time, legislators balked this year at climate initiatives that might restrain petroleum production. Morgan Lee And Mead Gruver, Anchorage Daily News, 16 May 2022 But Nicole’s case was a conundrum from the start — a child who seemed to defy any attempt to restrain her from a very early age. New York Times, 12 May 2022 Police struggled to restrain the man from getting at the victim once more and eventually had to force him to the floor. cleveland, 6 May 2022 That should lead American policymakers to seek opportunities for cooperation with our adversaries and restrain from threatening them. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 10 Mar. 2022 Then Jokic earned his own by charging Adair and might have been ejected if not for coach Michael Malone rushing onto the court to restrain his best player from getting any closer. Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times, 19 Jan. 2022 When apprised of the critique, the All-Star guard initially had the look of a man trying to restrain himself from expressing his true thoughts. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Dec. 2021 As if to defend Lopez, Affleck stepped forward and put his hands on the unknown man’s shoulders to restrain him from moving any closer. Marie Claire Editors, Marie Claire, 12 Sep. 2021 The Democrats' only hope of retaining power after these midterms is to restrain themselves from their instincts to overplay their policy hands and engage in the tiresome tit-for-tat with similarly overplaying Republicans. John Brummett, Arkansas Online, 24 June 2021 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Restrain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for restrain


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

More from Merriam-Webster on restrain

Nglish: Translation of restrain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of restrain for Arabic Speakers


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