from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To hold back or keep in check; control: couldn't restrain the tears.
  • transitive v. To hold (a person) back; prevent: restrained them from going.
  • transitive v. To deprive of freedom or liberty.
  • transitive v. To limit or restrict.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To control or keep in check.
  • v. To deprive of liberty.
  • v. To restrict or limit.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To draw back again; to hold back from acting, proceeding, or advancing, either by physical or moral force, or by any interposing obstacle; to repress or suppress; to keep down; to curb.
  • transitive v. To draw back toghtly, as a rein.
  • transitive v. To hinder from unlimited enjoiment; to abridge.
  • transitive v. To limit; to confine; to restrict.
  • transitive v. To withhold; to forbear.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To draw tight; strain.
  • To hold back; hold in; check; confine; hold from action or motion, either by physical or moral force, or by any interposing obstacle; hence, to repress or suppress: as, to restrain a horse by a bridle; to restrain men from crimes and trespasses by laws; to restrain, laughter.
  • To abridge; restrict; hinder from liberty of action.
  • To limit; confine; restrict in definition.
  • To withhold; forbear.
  • To forbid; prohibit.
  • Synonyms Restrain, Repress, Restrict; stop, withhold, curb, bridle, coerce. Restrain and repress are general words for holding or pressing back; restrict applies to holding back to a more definite degree: as, to restrain one's appetite; to restrict one's self in food or to a certain diet. 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.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. hold back
  • v. keep under control; keep in check
  • v. place limits on (extent or access)
  • v. to close within bounds, limit or hold back from movement
  • v. to compel or deter by or as if by threats


Middle English restreinen, from Old French restraindre, restreign-, from Latin restringere, to bind back; see restrict.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle French restraindre, from Latin rēstringō ("fasten, tighten") (Wiktionary)


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