Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To reduce to a pure state; purify.
  • transitive v. To remove by purifying.
  • transitive v. To free from coarse, unsuitable, or immoral characteristics: refined his manners; refined her speaking style.
  • intransitive v. To become free of impurities.
  • intransitive v. To acquire polish or elegance.
  • intransitive v. To use precise distinctions and subtlety in thought or speech.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To reduce to a fine, unmixed, or pure state; to free from impurities; to free from dross or alloy; to separate from extraneous matter; to purify; as, to refine gold or silver; to refine iron; to refine wine or sugar.
  • v. To purify from what is gross, coarse, vulgar, inelegant, low, and the like; to make elegant or excellent; to polish; as, to refine the manners, the language, the style, the taste, the intellect, or the moral feelings.
  • v. To become pure; to be cleared of feculent matter.
  • v. To improve in accuracy, delicacy, or excellence.
  • v. To affect nicety or subtlety in thought or language.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To reduce to a fine, unmixed, or pure state; to free from impurities; to free from dross or alloy; to separate from extraneous matter; to purify; to defecate
  • transitive v. To purify from what is gross, coarse, vulgar, inelegant, low, and the like; to make elegant or exellent; to polish.
  • intransitive v. To become pure; to be cleared of feculent matter.
  • intransitive v. To improve in accuracy, delicacy, or excellence.
  • intransitive v. To affect nicety or subtilty in thought or language.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To bring or reduce to a pure state; free from impurities; free from sediment; defecate; clarify; fine: as, to refine liquor, sugar, or petroleum.
  • In metallurgy, to bring into a condition of purity as complete as the nature of the ore treated will allow.
  • To purify from what is gross, coarse, debasing, low, vulgar, inelegant, rude, clownish, and the like; make elegant; raise or educate, as the taste; give culture to; polish: as, to refine the manners, taste, language, style, intellect, or moral feelings.
  • To become pure; be cleared of feculent matter.
  • To improve in accuracy, delicacy, or in anything that constitutes excellence.
  • To exhibit nicety or subtlety in thought or language, especially excessive nicety.

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

  • v. treat or prepare so as to put in a usable condition
  • v. make more complex, intricate, or richer
  • v. improve or perfect by pruning or polishing
  • v. reduce to a fine, unmixed, or pure state; separate from extraneous matter or cleanse from impurities
  • v. make more precise or increase the discriminatory powers of
  • v. attenuate or reduce in vigor, strength, or validity by polishing or purifying

Etymologies

From re- + fine. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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