Definition of confine in English:



  • 1 Keep or restrict someone or something within certain limits of (space, scope, or time)

    ‘he does not confine his message to high politics’
    ‘you've confined yourself to what you know’
    • ‘Considering these will strengthen the proposal by grounding it in the dynamic of an ongoing reality; failure to do so will confine its discussion to the narrow scope of the academy.’
    • ‘These days, most scholars confine their researches to a narrow stretch of time and space.’
    • ‘I must confine my writing to the inside, enclose it within a perimeter, which forms a circular line, an orbit around the text.’
    • ‘For space reasons we have confined the study to British and Irish directors at the top nine publicly quoted companies.’
    • ‘Either this determination is not made, however, or it is confined to mutually antagonistic pockets of conviction within the church.’
    • ‘In particular, it said, the terms were too restrictive in confining the examination to just three hospitals and to deceased children under 12 years who were born alive.’
    • ‘If anything, increasingly independent boards of directors are overseeing the succession process and are less likely to confine their search to the best candidate within the company.’
    • ‘In this sense, popular culture functions as a trap to confine the imagination to stereotypical images of Indian people.’
    • ‘I propose to confine my comments to matters of general policy within the Club.’
    • ‘He doesn't allow partisanship to affect the main body of his work on international trade and monetary policy; he confines his misstatements to areas he doesn't know much about, like energy economics.’
    • ‘Early guideline efforts confined their scope to preconception counselling, pregnancy, and birth.’
    • ‘The furniture in this exhibition is not confined to gallery spaces, however.’
    • ‘Ministers who kept their mouths shut and confined their views to Cabinet meetings feel betrayed.’
    • ‘He worked assiduously to confine the judges to their legal duties, and tried to limit their contacts with Versailles by forbidding them from sitting on the councils of the princes.’
    • ‘The lack of high profile politicos was noted as the bride and groom confined the guest list to family and close friends.’
    • ‘Space themes are not confined to futuristic fictional series on television, although these are by far the best known and the greatest revenue generators.’
    • ‘In subsequent years, Givon would confine her efforts to the main gallery spaces in the Monument.’
    • ‘It needs to be planted away from buildings and underground pipes because it develops rather fat roots which are known to lift paving and crack pools if it is confined to too small a space.’
    • ‘The great majority of women within fascist movements were confined to activities generally considered to be suited to their nature - essentially welfare work.’
    • ‘Consequently, some areas of town are isolated, and thus confine their residents to staying close to home.’
    restrict, limit
    enclose, incarcerate, imprison, intern, impound, hold captive, trap
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    1. 1.1Restrain or forbid someone from leaving (a place)
      ‘the troops were confined to their barracks’
      • ‘But I think it would be for the best that we wait until she is confined in a jail cell, it may be too hard to keep her under control in the open like this.’
      • ‘For six months she was confined in the Jewish ghetto, then she was transferred to Dachau, near Munich.’
      • ‘There they were confined in an utterly alien climate, with a resulting death toll of some forty percent, until the winter of 1913-14.’
      • ‘A good teacher really does keep pointing the way upward and forward, and really does let the student grow without confining him in a cage.’
      • ‘Their anatomy was half-human, half-animal, and they were confined in a low-ceilinged, windowless and oddly proportioned space.’
      • ‘The psychologist warned that it would be harmful to confine him in the punitive ‘management unit’ or among men in the Red 1 compound designed for ‘long-term behaviour management’.’
      • ‘If a man steals or kills somebody, according to newly found ‘blanket’ wisdom of ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ there is no need to punish the guilty and confine him to the jail or send him to the gallows.’
      • ‘Early in 1846 he was confined in an asylum in Paris.’
      • ‘You are in detention in the sense of being detained and you may be detained even though you are not confined to a particular place.’
      • ‘At present, six million pregnant sows in the EU are confined in stalls, including many in the Republic of Ireland.’
      • ‘Under impeachment he was confined in the Tower from 1679 to 1684.’
      • ‘The Church, however, forbade Galileo to teach the theory and eventually confined him to house arrest until his death in 1642.’
      • ‘A highly infectious disease, it passes easily from sheep to sheep, particularly when they are confined in a small space, during housing, periods of supplementary feeding or even in handling yards.’
      • ‘It was for this reason she was confined to her room until someone was sent to get her.’
      • ‘If each wall in this room were painted this color, you'd feel as if you were confined in a tight little box, albeit a box of a pretty color.’
      • ‘Most dramatically, the state can use the fact of a prior conviction as the basis for confining someone in a mental institution, even after he has completed his prison sentence.’
      • ‘Wet, cold soil can be a killer of the hardiest of plants, especially when they are confined in a pot.’
      • ‘Instead of yelling at me, he threw me over his shoulder, strode down the main deck, and tossed me in the room I was confined in before.’
      • ‘Until late December 1991 he was confined in various psychiatric hospitals.’
      • ‘They confined her in a hotel room under a doctor's care, but after only two days of this, she began showing symptoms of high blood pressure, dehydration, and stress.’
      send, deliver, hand over, give over, turn over, sentence
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    2. 1.2(of a person) be unable to leave (one's bed, home, or a wheelchair) because of illness or disability.
      ‘he was confined to bed for four days with a bad dose of flu’
      • ‘He is confined to a wheelchair and he hopes his own story will help change the minds of politicians who are opposed to lifting bans on therapeutic cloning.’
      • ‘His greatest disappointment was being confined to his bed by illness for two weeks of the campaign.’
      • ‘Despite being confined to a wheelchair he enjoys going for a pint in his local pub and seeing his friends.’
      • ‘She had recently fallen and fractured her pelvis and was confined to a wheel chair.’
      • ‘When she was diagnosed with MS at the age of 17, the Failsworth mother-of-two was confined to a wheelchair.’
      • ‘The 40-year-old is confined to a wheelchair, but can't wait to try his dad's invention.’
      • ‘The boss has a daughter who is confined to a wheelchair by a psychosomatic illness.’
      • ‘He lost seven stone in weight and was eventually confined to bed, relying on a nebuliser to help him breathe.’
      • ‘The youngster, who is confined to a wheelchair, is unable to breathe or swallow unaided and the only parts unaffected are her brain, heart, eyes and ears.’
      • ‘The patient, named only as Mrs H, was confined to a wheelchair and never left the home.’
      • ‘But being confined to a wheelchair has not deterred him from tireless fundraising to help makeover the school's sensory garden in memory of three pupils who died last year.’
      • ‘It's just that she's confined to bed these days and she gets bored, so she makes things up.’
      • ‘He was confined to a wheelchair and told that he would never walk again.’
      • ‘He will also meet and be shown around the ground floor flat of a woman who is confined to a wheelchair.’
      • ‘Alexandra has cerebral palsy, is confined to a wheelchair and suffers from frequent epileptic fits.’
      • ‘When she was 15, her father became paralysed and was confined to a wheelchair.’
      • ‘He was hospitalised, endured numerous operations, was confined to a wheelchair for many months and kept out of school for a year.’
      • ‘But despite the need for twice-daily physiotherapy, constant dependency on antibiotics and in her final months being confined to a wheelchair, she stayed positive throughout.’
      • ‘Over a period of four months he became increasingly weak and was eventually confined to bed.’
      • ‘She was confined to a wheelchair, could not recognise her parents and was given a year to live.’
    3. 1.3dated (of a woman) remain in bed for a period before, during, and after giving birth.
      ‘she was confined for nearly a month’
      • ‘The prisoner gave evidence on oath to the effect that she was confined before she expected to be, and was unconscious for two hours immediately after her delivery.’


  • 1The borders or boundaries of a place, especially with regard to their restricting freedom of movement.

    ‘within the confines of the hall escape was difficult’
    • ‘It is only an hour or so from Rome's major airports, but once within the confines of the grounds it is unlikely that you will stray too far.’
    • ‘This sort of detail should never leave the confines of the hospital.’
    • ‘Anything said or done within the confines of the European team room should, in my opinion, remain private.’
    • ‘Yet his greatest rebuilding effort has been accomplished, not on the court, but within the confines of his own home.’
    • ‘Religion is a personal belief and a private matter and should be kept within the confines of our home.’
    • ‘For some, the fast-food joint is the only option if they want to escape the confines of a cramped house for a couple of hours.’
    • ‘Where the damage has been done is internally, within the confines of Northern Ireland.’
    • ‘Food, in the confines of jail, takes on a more basic and urgent quality than it does outside.’
    • ‘Set within the confines of a crumbling mansion, a child bride finds an unusual way to escape from her loathsome mill owner husband.’
    • ‘In reality she couldn't think of a safe place within the confines of the building.’
    • ‘Above that, a balcony, which stretched to the confines of the building, was also filled with books.’
    • ‘These crumbs went onto the desk, the floor and a few remained within the confines of the wrapper.’
    • ‘I protested, trying to make my way out of the confines of the restricting hospital sheets.’
    • ‘As she breathed over me in the confines of the cubicle it was clear that she'd been drinking garlic coffee for most of the morning.’
    • ‘It seems that this caring does not extend outside the confines of our own country, our island, our citadel.’
    • ‘The director creatively allows the audience to look beyond the confines of the theatre space.’
    • ‘This means finding a building within the confines of the town boundary but not too close to the centre of the town.’
    • ‘The buildings are to be located within the confines of the existing Waste Water Treatment Works.’
    • ‘Have we not been burning our women within the confines of our homes, young women who have not brought enough dowry?’
    • ‘While in the open desert the tank is king, in the confines of city streets the guerrilla fighter comes into his own.’
    limits, outer limits, borders, boundaries, margins, extremities, edges, fringes, marches
    periphery, perimeter, circumference, compass, precinct, pale
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    1. 1.1The limits of something abstract, especially a sphere of activity.
      ‘the narrow confines of political life’
      • ‘It is difficult to always live within the confines of a contradiction that passes as a policy.’
      • ‘There sole aim must not just be to entice as many clients as possible but to do business within the confines of the law.’
      • ‘Where some feel constricted by the confines of professionalism, others find comfort in its regimens.’
      • ‘And it is unlikely that the ripple effects of such success would be contained within the confines of sport.’
      • ‘Much as we realise the task by police to combat crime, that should done within the confines of the law.’
      • ‘Inevitably the debate before me has ranged a little wider than the narrow confines of that question.’
      • ‘Positive word of mouth pushed the drug far beyond the confines of the rave scene.’
      • ‘The slave is forced by necessity to fight for his freedom within the confines of society.’
      • ‘Well, you used to be able to anyway, I'm sure they are now operating totally within the confines of their licence.’
      • ‘But it has not yet been able to break out of the confines of documents and seminar halls.’
      • ‘Laura, stifled by the confines of her religion and her boyfriend, dreams of freedom and the ocean.’
      • ‘However, discussion usually drifted well away from the confines of these topics.’
      • ‘It is not exactly a call to revolution, but within the confines of the Catholic Church, it has seen him cast as a liberal reformist.’
      • ‘This is a criminal trial and it will stay within the confines of the rules of evidence and procedure.’
      • ‘But that is not an exclusive challenge for those within the confines of what some choose to call the new economy.’
      • ‘He is not, and never has been, caught up solely within the confines of Catholicism in terms of his music and his philosophy.’
      • ‘In a way, I guess that being true to myself outside of the confines of the written word is a somewhat impossible task.’
      • ‘There is nothing wrong for a guru and chela to learn and practise mysterious rituals within the confines of the law.’
      • ‘It could also be resentment at the confines of a syllabus and the restrictions that must be placed on students.’
      • ‘My birding is restricted only by my own inability to escape from the confines of city life.’
      extent, range, breadth, width, reach, sweep, purview, span, stretch, spread, horizon
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Late Middle English (as a noun): from French confins (plural noun), from Latin confinia, from confinis bordering, from con- together + finis end, limit (plural fines territory). The verb senses are from French confiner, based on Latin confinis.