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  1. having or showing well-bred feeling, taste, etc.: refined people.
  2. freed or free from coarseness, vulgarity, etc.: refined taste.
  3. freed from impurities: refined sugar.
  4. very subtle, precise, or exact: refined distinctions.
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Origin of refined

First recorded in 1565–75; refine + -ed2
Related formsre·fin·ed·ly [ri-fahy-nid-lee, -fahynd-] /rɪˈfaɪ nɪd li, -ˈfaɪnd-/, adverbre·fin·ed·ness, nounhalf-re·fined, adjectivenon·re·fined, adjectivequa·si-re·fined, adjectivesem·i·re·fined, adjectivesu·per·re·fined, adjectiveul·tra·re·fined, adjectivewell-re·fined, adjective


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verb (used with object), re·fined, re·fin·ing.
  1. to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities: to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum.
  2. to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured.
  3. to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.
  4. to make more fine, subtle, or precise: to refine one's writing style.
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verb (used without object), re·fined, re·fin·ing.
  1. to become pure: The silver is refining in the furnace.
  2. to become more fine, elegant, or polished: His parents hope that his manners will refine as he gets older.
  3. to make fine distinctions in thought or language.
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Verb Phrases
  1. refine on/upon, to improve by inserting finer distinctions, superior elements, etc.: to refine on one's previous work.
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Origin of refine

First recorded in 1575–85; re- + fine1
Related formsre·fin·a·ble, adjectivere·fin·er, nounpre·re·fine, verb (used with object), pre·re·fined, pre·re·fin·ing.self-re·fin·ing, adjectivesu·per·re·fine, verb (used with object), su·per·re·fined, su·per·re·fin·ing.un·re·fin·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for refined

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Sympathetic persons are apt to assume that every refined emotion must be ennobling.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Major Harper, the oldest, most refined and most soldierly of them all, was also the handsomest.

    The Cavalier

    George Washington Cable

  • But it is in graceful, refined France that cookery is and has been, a pet art.

    Culture and Cooking

    Catherine Owen

  • His accent was none of the Elberthal one; it was fine, refined, polished.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • Not in vain you live, for every passing eye is cheered and refined by the vision.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

British Dictionary definitions for refined


  1. not coarse or vulgar; genteel, elegant, or polite
  2. subtle; discriminating
  3. freed from impurities; purified
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  1. to make or become free from impurities, sediment, or other foreign matter; purify
  2. (tr) to separate (a mixture) into pure constituents, as in an oil refinery
  3. to make or become free from coarse characteristics; make or become elegant or polished
  4. (tr often foll by out) to remove (something impure or extraneous)
  5. (intr ; often foll by on or upon) to enlarge or improve (upon) by making subtle or fine distinctions
  6. (tr) to make (language) more subtle or polished
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Derived Formsrefinable, adjective

Word Origin

C16: from re- + fine 1
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 refined


1570s, "subtle;" 1580s, "elegant;" 1590s, "purified," past participle adjective from refine (v.).

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1580s, of metals, c.1590 of manners, from re-, intensive prefix, + obsolete fine (v.) "make fine," from fine (adj.) "delicate." Cf. French raffiner, Italian raffinare, Spanish refinar. General and figurative sense is recorded from 1590s; of sugar, from 1610s. Related: Refined; refining.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

refined in Medicine


  1. To reduce to a pure state; purify.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.