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

Keep scrolling for more

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 On March 27, Victoria Esperanza Salazar Arriaza was killed outside a convenience store in Tulum, when a police officer knelt on her back to restrain her, breaking her neck. Whitney Eulich, The Christian Science Monitor, "A woman’s death in Mexico fueled outrage. Can it fuel police reform?," 8 Apr. 2021 Eventually, Floyd stopped moving and appeared unresponsive as the officers continued to restrain him. Mark Boswell, Star Tribune, "Step by step, here's how George Floyd's fatal encounter with police unfolded," 1 Apr. 2021 The officers continued to restrain Oliver to prevent him from kicking and hitting his head on the ground until a life squad arrived. Quinlan Bentley, The Enquirer, "Springdale police chief responds to viral video alleging officers used excessive force in Sky Zone arrest," 28 Feb. 2021 But in Russia, home to a Soviet legacy of an enormous pool of engineering talent, digital entrepreneurship bloomed freely for two decades, until Mr. Putin started trying to restrain online speech after the antigovernment protests of 2011 and 2012. New York Times, "China Censors the Internet. So Why Doesn’t Russia?," 21 Feb. 2021 In 2017, Whittier, California, police killed 26-year-old Jonathan Salcido while trying to restrain him during a schizophrenic episode. Daphne Duret And Jessica Priest, USA TODAY, "Police training cited as defense in many use-of-force cases. But experts say it's outdated.," 22 Sep. 2020 While many studies are underway, the CDC recommends that pet owners infected with the coronavirus maintain hygiene precautions and restrain from having direct contact with their animals. Carolyn Barber, Fortune, "Everything we know—and don’t know—about human-to-animal COVID transmission," 4 Sep. 2020 Police say officers were still trying to restrain Sewell when Chisler shot him. Perry Vandell, The Arizona Republic, "Mesa police officer charged with aggravated assault after shooting unarmed man has been fired," 1 July 2020 Two OhioGuidestone residents helped the worker restrain the boy a second time. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Boy punches pregnant woman in stomach at Ohio Guidestone; resident defrauded in Easter egg scam: Berea police blotter," 9 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about restrain

Time Traveler for restrain

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for restrain

Last Updated

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Restrain.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!