[ ri-fahyn ]
See synonyms for: refinerefinedrefining on

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.

  1. to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.

  2. to make more fine, subtle, or precise: to refine one's writing style.

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.

  1. to make fine distinctions in thought or language.

Verb Phrases
  1. refine on / upon to improve by inserting finer distinctions, superior elements, etc.: to refine on one's previous work.

Origin of refine

First recorded in 1575–85; re- + fine1

Other words from refine

  • re·fin·a·ble, adjective
  • re·fin·er, noun
  • pre·re·fine, verb (used with object), pre·re·fined, pre·re·fin·ing.
  • self-re·fin·ing, adjective
  • su·per·re·fine, verb (used with object), su·per·re·fined, su·per·re·fin·ing.
  • un·re·fin·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use refine in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for refine


/ (rɪˈfaɪn) /

  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

  1. to make or become free from coarse characteristics; make or become elegant or polished

  2. (tr often foll by out) to remove (something impure or extraneous)

  3. (intr ; often foll by on or upon) to enlarge or improve (upon) by making subtle or fine distinctions

  4. (tr) to make (language) more subtle or polished

Origin of refine

C16: from re- + fine 1

Derived forms of refine

  • refinable, adjective

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