re·​strain | \ri-ˈstrān \
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 \ 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

Bush may have been polite where Trump is crude, restrained where Trump is over-the-top. Anna North, Vox, "What George H.W. Bush’s presidency says about Trump and Kavanaugh," 3 Dec. 2018 For Madonna, a large black bow did little to restrain her tangle of wild curls—a nonverbal reminder that she would not be tamed. Alexandra Pechman, Vogue, "6 Iconic Women Who Turned a Hair Ribbon Into the Ultimate Beauty Win," 22 Oct. 2018 The killing involved restraining the journalist and injecting him with a tranquilizer that led to his death by overdose, the office said. Ian Talley, WSJ, "Saudis to Seek Death Penalty in Khashoggi Killing," 15 Nov. 2018 Camilla and Giulia Venturini launched their restrained, ultra-luxe collection of shopper totes in all sizes, named Medea after Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 film, earlier this year and already call Petra Collins and Dev Hynes fans. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Italy’s Must-Have New Bag Line Debuts a Nan Goldin Collaboration," 20 Sep. 2018 The man said he had been tied up with ropes at first but later, after learning to wriggle free, was restrained with increasingly larger chains on and off over six years. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Turpin sister's photos of shackled siblings draw gasps in court," 21 June 2018 While Audie and his 53-year-old wife were properly restrained at the time of the crash, their four daughters were not, said Jaffe. Caitlin Keating,, "New Jersey Mom Who Survived Car Crash That Killed Husband and Daughters Learns Family's Fate," 9 July 2018 Both husband and wife were properly restrained in the vehicle, police said, but their four daughters were not. CBS News, "Mother survives car crash that killed husband, 4 daughters," 7 July 2018 But senior Trump administration officials will talk with European diplomats on the sidelines of the meeting about efforts to further restrain Iran. New York Times, "Roiling Markets, U.S. Insists World Must Stop Buying Iranian Oil," 26 June 2018

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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Statistics for restrain

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for restrain

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

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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 \
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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on restrain

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for restrain

Spanish Central: Translation of restrain

Nglish: Translation of restrain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of restrain for Arabic Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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