re·​straint | \ ri-ˈstrānt How to pronounce restraint (audio) \

Definition of restraint

1a : an act of restraining : the state of being restrained
b(1) : a means of restraining : a restraining force or influence
(2) : a device that restricts movement a restraint for children riding in cars
2 : a control over the expression of one's emotions or thoughts

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Examples of restraint in a Sentence

Make sure the child safety restraint is in place. The prisoner was placed in restraints. His angry response showed a lack of restraint. The government has acted with restraint in dealing with this crisis.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But perhaps that kind of restraint—there’s that word again—should be seen as impressive. Elizabeth Holmes, Town & Country, "Anne Hathaway Is Nobody's Punching Bag," 8 Jan. 2019 This museum tells the complicated story of suffering with a plainspoken forthrightness that is especially poignant given the general restraint of Japanese culture. Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With Kusama Museum and art-filled islands, Japan is a paradise for art nerds," 27 Apr. 2018 What to make of this collapse in spending restraint? Brian Riedl, National Review, "Republicans Begin a Spending Spree," 9 Feb. 2018 The driver of the minivan was cited for failure to yield at an intersection and failing to secure a child in a child-restraint seat, according to police. Sarah Freishtat, Aurora Beacon-News, "Driver of minivan cited after Aurora crash involving ambulance sends 10 to hospital," 17 May 2018 Some didn’t get oxygen and blood-sugar checks; injuries weren’t properly treated; they were held in restraints too long; and the building remained a fire hazard. Washington Post, "AP Exclusive: Washington psychiatric hospital called ‘hell’," 6 July 2018 That may seem like a lot, but these were pinpoint hits, and actually an exercise in restraint. William Langewiesche, The Atlantic, "An Extraordinarily Expensive Way to Fight ISIS," 21 June 2018 Rather than involving itself with facile life-determines-art equations, or condescending to its viewers in the manner of an overeager biopic, this piece trusts its own material and approaches it with admirable restraint. Jeremy Eichler,, "Kafka encaged, writing to his father," 18 June 2018 When Johnson attempts to sit up several minutes into the video, he is swiftly pushed down and placed in leg restraints. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Disturbing video shows Mesa police officers brutally beating an unarmed man," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'restraint.' 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 restraint

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for restraint

Middle English, from Anglo-French restreinte, from restreindre

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Last Updated

21 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for restraint

The first known use of restraint was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for restraint



English Language Learners Definition of restraint

somewhat formal : a way of limiting, controlling, or stopping something
formal : a device that limits a person's movement
: control over your emotions or behavior


re·​straint | \ ri-ˈstrānt How to pronounce restraint (audio) \

Kids Definition of restraint

1 : the act of stopping or holding back : the state of being stopped or held back
2 : a force or influence that stops or holds back
3 : control over thoughts or feelings You're angry, but show restraint.


re·​straint | \ ri-ˈstrānt How to pronounce restraint (audio) \

Medical Definition of restraint

: a device that restricts movement restraints such as straitjackets for violent patients

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re·​straint | \ ri-ˈstrānt How to pronounce restraint (audio) \

Legal Definition of restraint

1a : an act or fact of restraining — see also prior restraint
b : the state of being restrained
2a : a means of restraining
b : a device that restricts movement (as of prisoners or violent psychiatric patients)

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Comments on restraint

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


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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