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 The government has shown uncharacteristic restraint in response. Raja Abdulrahim, WSJ, "Reviving Syria’s Economy Is an Uphill Battle for Assad After Years of War," 31 Jan. 2020 The research involves, among other practices, destroying parts of monkeys’ brains and locking them in restraint devices. Carlin Becker, Washington Examiner, "Taxpayer watchdog sues federal health agency for withholding animal testing records and videos," 13 Jan. 2020 The coachbuilder was Henri Binder of 31 rue du Colisée in Paris, who showed admirable restraint in this car's design compared with his more flamboyant French competitors of the period. Kirk Seaman, Car and Driver, "Gooding Auction Joins Throng of Car Auction Mega-Events in January," 12 Jan. 2020 Do your best to show some restraint and move through it with grace. Magi Helena, oregonlive, "Horoscope for Dec. 14, 2019: Pisces, don’t let little things bug you; Virgo, put free time to good use," 14 Dec. 2019 Pence also encouraged the Iraqi government to show restraint with the protesters. Arkansas Online, "Pence works to reassure Kurdish allies in surprise Iraq trip," 23 Nov. 2019 Pence encouraged the Iraqi government to show restraint with the protesters., "Pence makes surprise visit to Iraq to reassure allies and greet troops - The Boston Globe," 23 Nov. 2019 Moving down to the bill, the designers showed remarkable restraint on the left side, with the full-length city name in nice, easy-to-read letters. Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times, "These 2019 NBA Tip-Off hats might be the weirdest thing you ever put on your head," 11 Oct. 2019 Later, all participants were given a chance to indulge or show restraint in an unrelated task. Cindi May, Scientific American, "How Curiosity Makes You Crave," 24 Sep. 2019

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

7 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Restraint.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for restraint


How to pronounce restraint (audio)

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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