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 However, the lawsuit claims that Jimenez did not regain consciousness after the carotid restraint. Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Deputy’s use of carotid restraint at center of wrongful death lawsuit," 24 Feb. 2021 Obama denounced that escalation and sent his secretary of state to plead for restraint and cease-fires, but the effort had no effect. Star Tribune, "Iran is showing why Biden should follow the Trump doctrine," 19 Feb. 2021 Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "John Oliver slams Mike Shirkey on 'Last Week Tonight' for false claim on US Capitol 'hoax'," 15 Feb. 2021 Woodfin called for restraint and asked protesters to allow the city to remove the monument safely. Mike Cason |, al, "AG Marshall says he would sue Birmingham if Confederate monument removed," 1 June 2020 Sociologist Ray Von Robertson, Chaney’s book co-author, says that disparities in arrest rates and incarceration of Black and white drug users who consume drugs at similar rates suggest that white officers exercise restraint with white civilians. Jim Daley, Scientific American, "White Chicago Cops Use Force More Often than Black Officers," 11 Feb. 2021 The second group needs to exercise some restraint based on their personal level of concern. Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, "Here's what Bay Area experts say you should and shouldn't do after getting vaccinated," 3 Feb. 2021 Exercising restraint—not sharing moral outrage—is an act of generosity. Samantha Boardman, WSJ, "A Divided Nation: One Psychiatrist’s Advice on Lowering the Temperature," 15 Dec. 2020 Conversely, many conservatives believe networks other than Fox News exercise too much restraint already. Brian Stelter, CNN, "What will TV and social networks do if Trump prematurely declares victory?," 2 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for restraint

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for restraint

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Restraint.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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

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