characterized by restraint: The actor gave a restrained performance.

Origin of restrained

First recorded in 1570–80; restrain + -ed2
Related formsre·strain·ed·ly, adverbnon·re·strained, adjective



verb (used with or without object)

to strain again.

Origin of re-strain

First recorded in 1870–75; re- + strain1
Can be confusedre-strain restrain



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 formsre·strain·a·ble, adjectivere·strain·a·bil·i·ty, nounre·strain·ing·ly, adverbo·ver·re·strain, verb (used with object)pre·re·strain, verb (used with object)un·re·strain·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedrefrain restrainre-strain restrain

Synonyms for restrain

Synonym study

1. See check1.

Antonyms for restrain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for restrained

Contemporary Examples of restrained

Historical Examples of restrained

  • But he had not done so, and she was glad he could be restrained and deliberate in that "breedy" sort of way.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But his curiosity was too strong to be restrained by mere compassion.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • He felt her eye was upon him, and restrained his emotions as he proceeded.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • But even in his fierce young indignation he restrained himself.

  • It restrained him, opposed the will of him toward personal liberty.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for restrained



(of a person or person's manner) calm and unemotional
(of clothes, décor, etc) subtle and tasteful
Derived Formsrestrainedly (rɪˈstreɪnɪdlɪ), adverb


verb (tr)

to hold (someone) back from some action, esp by force
to deprive (someone) of liberty, as by imprisonment
to limit or restrict
Derived Formsrestrainable, adjective

Word Origin for restrain

C14 restreyne, from Old French restreindre, from Latin rēstringere to draw back tightly, from re- + stringere to draw, bind; see strain 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 restrained

"repressed, kept under control," 1570s, past participle adjective from 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