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 restrainable (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 Some analysts have speculated Evergrande has failed to get a green light for its listing plan because policy makers are trying to tame sky-high home prices and restrain fundraising by developers., "Evergrande Shares Rebound, Bonds Swing in Volatile Trading," 27 Sep. 2020 Breen’s wife, Linda, who ran for the District 1 council seat against Schumacher, said the restraining order is an attempt to restrain her husband’s First Amendment rights. Phil Diehl, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Carlsbad councilwoman obtains restraining order against critics," 27 Sep. 2020 Many critics of the tech giants want antitrust enforcers to restrain them, or even break them up. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 17 Sep. 2020 Few head coaches test their assistants' ability to restrain them on matters of officiating like Hurley, the Huskies' hyperactive and emotive leader. Chris Brodeur,, "‘We’re starting to look like UConn again:' Kimani Young joined the UConn Insider podcast to discuss his recent promotion, his role with Coaches For Action and more," 8 Oct. 2020 Sometimes the Green Party itself is not only unaware of Republican efforts but has tried to restrain them. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, "How Republicans Are Trying to Use the Green Party to Their Advantage," 23 Sep. 2020 According to a 911 caller, Cervantes was struggling with Dion and tried to restrain him moments before the officer shot and killed him. Lauren Castle, The Arizona Republic, "County attorney to announce whether trooper who shot Dion Johnson will face criminal charges," 22 Sep. 2020 Prude appears to try to stand at approximately 3:20 a.m., and three officers move in to restrain him and hold him to the ground. Taylor Romine, CNN, "Family calls for officers' arrest in the death of a Black man after they knelt on him," 3 Sep. 2020 Three officers moved in to restrain him and hold him down. Haley Victory Smith, Washington Examiner, "Rochester mayor suspends officers involved in March death of Daniel Prude," 3 Sep. 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

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Restrain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for restrain


How to pronounce restrain (audio)

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.
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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