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 Officers are taught how to command, control, restrain, and track people., "Police have long had a haphazard, lax response to domestic violence within the ranks," 19 Mar. 2021 For years after the embargo, Mr. Yamani struggled to restrain oil prices, believing the long-term Saudi interest was to prolong global dependence on affordable oil. New York Times, "Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Former Saudi Oil Minister, Dies at 90," 23 Feb. 2021 Floristella’s housekeeper and his handyman race from next door to restrain Floristella, who flings away his stick and launches himself at Pianon, bearing the other man to the ground with his greater weight and trying to throttle him. Andrea Lee, The New Yorker, "The Rivals," 28 Dec. 2020 Since the start of 2020, the Treasury has financed over 60% of the $5.2 trillion in new borrowing at maturities of under a year to restrain interest costs. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "3 ways you’ll feel the pain of the shocking rise in interest rates," 20 Mar. 2021 India's federal government has urged a Delhi court to restrain Facebook's WhatsApp from implementing a controversial privacy policy, intensifying pressure on the popular messaging service in its biggest market by users. Washington Post, "G-7 agrees to expand IMF reserves to help developing countries in pandemic," 19 Mar. 2021 Floyd, a black man, was killed while in police custody after one former officer, Derek Chauvin, used his knee to restrain Floyd for nearly nine minutes. Mike Brest, Washington Examiner, "Iowa journalist acquitted of charges after being arrested while covering George Floyd protest," 10 Mar. 2021 Lane, one of the officers who helped restrain Floyd, had been on the police force for four days when Floyd died, according to Lane's attorney Earl Gray. Amir Vera, CNN, "These are the people at the center of the Derek Chauvin trial," 9 Mar. 2021 On March 6th 2020 Saudi Arabia and Russia failed to agree on a deal to restrain production. The Economist, "Oil markets prepare for lofty prices and restrained supply," 8 Mar. 2021

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

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Restrain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 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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Comments on restrain

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