[ri-fahyn-muh nt]
See more synonyms for refinement on
  1. fineness or elegance of feeling, taste, manners, language, etc.
  2. an instance of refined feeling, manners, etc.
  3. the act or process of refining.
  4. the quality or state of being refined.
  5. a subtle point or distinction.
  6. subtle reasoning.
  7. an improved, higher, or extreme form of something: a refinement of the old system.
  8. Mathematics. a set whose elements include the elements of a given set.

Origin of refinement

First recorded in 1605–15; refine + -ment
Related formsnon·re·fine·ment, nounpre·re·fine·ment, nounself-re·fine·ment, nounsu·per·re·fine·ment, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for refinement

Contemporary Examples of refinement

Historical Examples of refinement

  • For a woman of her refinement, she had the strangest proclivity for low company!

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • I am sick of Mrs General's good breeding and refinement, papa,' said Fanny. '

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • I desire to imitate the committee in their refinement and delicacy of distinction.

    Slavery Ordained of God

    Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.

  • Mrs. Rice is a lady of refinement, exemplary, and much beloved and respected.

  • The refinement and the multiplicity of pleasures also diminish the attractions of marriage.

British Dictionary definitions for refinement


  1. the act of refining or the state of being refined
  2. a fine or delicate point, distinction, or expression; a subtlety
  3. fineness or precision of thought, expression, manners, etc; polish or cultivation
  4. a device, change, adaptation, etc, designed to improve performance or increase efficiency
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 refinement

1610s, "act or process of refining; state of being pure," from refine + -ment. Meaning "fineness of feeling" is from 1708.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper