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

Synonyms & Antonyms for restrain


apprehend, arrest, bust [slang], collar, nab, nail, pick up, pinch, pull in, run in, seize



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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

Shackled and handcuffed, Munoz attempted to escape again upon arrival, and once more had to be restrained. The Washington Post,, "A family was separated at the border, and this distraught father took his own life," 10 June 2018 Without beds to restrain you, the space can be fortified and tilled year after year for a large family garden. Maureen Gilmer, idahostatesman, "How to start your first garden (while saving money)," 7 Mar. 2018 The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled Mears' death a homicide, concluding that cocaine and police efforts to restrain him, including the Taser shocks, were too much for his heart. Anchorage Daily News, "They’re ‘higher risk’ targets, the maker of Taser says, but police are still electroshocking them," 7 Feb. 2018 White was hysterical, and neighbors had to restrain her from trying to get back into the inferno. Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana woman convicted of killing 6 continues fight for freedom," 11 June 2015 Pets must be properly restrained at all times and retractable leashes are not allowed. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Rancho Bernardo, "Fair, parade and fireworks returning to Rancho Bernardo," 28 June 2018 Rejoining the windy public roads between Monchique and Lagos, the I-Pace exhibited the same breathtaking power and easy maneuverability provided on the track (of course, restrained to conform to local laws). Bradley Berman, Popular Mechanics, "The Jaguar I-PACE and the Juiced-Up Future of Going Off-Road," 25 June 2018 This isn't that different from how Obama conducted himself as president, only ever taking restrained, measured, and seemingly endlessly examined steps forward. Luke Darby, GQ, "Why Obama Has Been Staying Quiet," 25 June 2018 There was no requirement then that the shelter report to the federal officials each time children were drugged or restrained, the newspaper reported. Susan Carroll, Houston Chronicle, "Lawyers: Require permission before medicating immigrant children," 21 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

14 Oct 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

Comments on restrain

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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