a restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form, as for clearness; rewording.
the act or process of restating or rewording.

verb (used with object), par·a·phrased, par·a·phras·ing.

to render the meaning of in a paraphrase: to paraphrase a technical paper for lay readers.

verb (used without object), par·a·phrased, par·a·phras·ing.

to make a paraphrase or paraphrases.

Origin of paraphrase

1540–50; < Middle French < Latin paraphrasis < Greek paráphrasis. See para-1, phrase
Related formspar·a·phras·a·ble, adjectivepar·a·phras·er, nounmis·par·a·phrase, verb, mis·par·a·phrased, mis·par·a·phras·ing.un·par·a·phrased, adjective

Synonyms for paraphrase

1. See translation. 3. summarize; explain. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for paraphrasing

Contemporary Examples of paraphrasing

  • “We want bread and social justice,” she contends, paraphrasing the slogan of the revolt that toppled Mubarak.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Egypt: The Revolution’s Last Stand

    Jesse Rosenfeld

    March 23, 2014

  • (I'm paraphrasing here) Why would anyone need an assault-style rifle anyway?

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Newtown Heckling Controversy

    David Frum

    January 30, 2013

  • Paraphrasing LBJ, McCain said: “I just wish one of them had run for county sheriff.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    McCain's New Pal

    Howard Kurtz

    April 6, 2011

Historical Examples of paraphrasing

  • I am but paraphrasing what was said recently by an Oxford professor.

    Waiting for Daylight

    Henry Major Tomlinson

  • Paraphrasing is telling (speaking) the same thing in other words.


    Elmer W. Cavins

  • Paraphrasing the poet, “none knew him but to love him, none knew him but to praise.”

  • “The very best,” Dan declared, paraphrasing the book he had just been reading.

  • If we may take the liberty of paraphrasing the lines of the immortal bard.

    The Battle of The Press

    Theophila Carlile Campbell

British Dictionary definitions for paraphrasing



an expression of a statement or text in other words, esp in order to clarify
the practice of making paraphrases


to put (something) into other words; restate (something)
Derived Formsparaphrastic (ˌpærəˈfræstɪk), adjective

Word Origin for paraphrase

C16: via French from Latin paraphrasis, from Greek, from paraphrazein to recount
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

Word Origin and History for paraphrasing



c.1600, from paraphrase (n.) or from French paraphraser. Related: Paraphrased; paraphrasing.



1540s, from Middle French paraphrase (1520s), from Latin paraphrasis "a paraphrase," from Greek paraphrasis "a free rendering," from paraphrazein "to tell in other words," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + phrazein "to tell" (see phrase (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

paraphrasing in Culture


A restatement of speech or writing that retains the basic meaning while changing the words. A paraphrase often clarifies the original statement by putting it into words that are more easily understood.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.