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[ri-streyn] /rɪˈstreɪn/
verb (used with object)
to hold back from action; keep in check or under control; repress:
to restrain one's temper.
to deprive of liberty, as by arrest or the like.
to limit or hamper the activity, growth, or effect of:
to restrain trade with Cuba.
Origin of restrain
1350-1400; Middle English restreynen < Middle French restreindre < Latin restringere to bind back, bind fast, equivalent to re- re- + stringere to draw together; see strain1
Related forms
restrainable, adjective
restrainability, noun
restrainingly, adverb
overrestrain, verb (used with object)
prerestrain, verb (used with object)
unrestrainable, adjective
Can be confused
refrain, restrain.
re-strain, restrain.
1. bridle, suppress, constrain. 2. restrict, circumscribe, confine, hinder, hamper.
1. unbridle. 2. free, liberate.
Synonym Study
1. See check1.


[ree-streyn] /riˈstreɪn/
verb (used with or without object)
to strain again.
First recorded in 1870-75; re- + strain1
Can be confused
re-strain, restrain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for restrain
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Has this fearful pestilence no power to restrain the appetites and passions of the people?

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Yet the effort she made, and with success, to restrain the show of her anger, was far from slight.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • Mary made no effort to restrain the smile caused by the costume of Mr. Griggs.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The railroad can do it, to restrain its employees from striking.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • It was all he could do to restrain himself from roaring aloud in his rage.

    Casanova's Homecoming Arthur Schnitzler
British Dictionary definitions for restrain


verb (transitive)
to hold (someone) back from some action, esp by force
to deprive (someone) of liberty, as by imprisonment
to limit or restrict
Derived Forms
restrainable, adjective
Word Origin
C14 restreyne, from Old French restreindre, from Latin rēstringere to draw back tightly, from re- + stringere to draw, bind; see strain1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for restrain

mid-14c., from stem of Old French restreindre "press, push together; curb, bridle; bandage" (12c.), from Latin restringere "draw back tightly, confine, check" (see restriction). Related: Restrained; restraining.

That which we restrain we keep within limits; that which we restrict we keep within certain definite limits; that which we repress we try to put out of existence. [Century Dictionary, 1902]



"strain again," 1874, from re- + strain (v.). Related: Re-strained; re-straining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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