Definition of paraphrase in English:



  • Express the meaning of (something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity.

    ‘you can either quote or paraphrase literary texts’
    • ‘I'm totally paraphrasing this conversation.’
    • ‘The answers are paraphrased as I wrote them down as fast as I could.’
    • ‘The discovery of every tale, Naipaul writes, paraphrasing Joseph Conrad, is a moral one.’
    • ‘The words were repeated and the speech was paraphrased.’
    • ‘The quote attributed to the person is paraphrased but contains more detail than the account in the first statement.’
    • ‘It's almost a situation where too much is done in advance to hide the fact that the king, paraphrasing the well-known children's fairy tale, is wearing no clothes.’
    • ‘And so we paraphrased Trotsky rather than quoting him directly.’
    • ‘This story is of course a minor one, but I am paraphrasing it here because I think it sheds great light on provincial Iraqi affairs about which those of us here in the West hear only rarely.’
    • ‘Active listening involves occasionally paraphrasing ideas expressed by the person.’
    • ‘Miller committed a further offense by paraphrasing the quote and distorting Smithson's analysis.’
    • ‘Printed text was paraphrased to avoid breaking the code.’
    • ‘I'm paraphrasing an old joke to make a point about the state of celebrity in 2002.’
    • ‘Typically, those are paraphrased into something we can understand, but this epithet, which is arguably worse in motive than those, gets printed.’
    • ‘‘One believer to another is like one body,’ he said, noting that he was paraphrasing a saying of the prophet Mohammed.’
    • ‘In part because the meanings of a Beethoven symphony can't be paraphrased into words, one can make purely personal, emotional use of the music.’
    • ‘It's a tough gig best described by paraphrasing the old joke about farming: If you want to make a small fortune free-lancing, start with a large fortune.’
    • ‘Interesting though the research on driver impairment due to carrying out a mobile conversation is just paraphrasing the research sufficient work to generate an article?’
    • ‘Here the indefinite a fun and fruity wine can be paraphrased as a fun and fruity kind of wine.’
    • ‘‘Friendship perhaps is not necessary for survival,’ I paraphrased one of his famous quotes.’
    • ‘Absolutely, and in hindsight, perhaps I wish I'd just paraphrased it, not used quotes.’
    reword, rephrase, express in other words, put in other words, express in one's own words, put in one's own words, express differently, rewrite, rescript, restate, rehash, interpret, gloss
    View synonyms


  • A rewording of something written or spoken.

    ‘scattered here and there in the text are frank paraphrases of lines from Virgil, Cicero, and Quintilian’
    [mass noun] ‘it is characteristic of poetic metaphors that they are not susceptible to paraphrase’
    • ‘He cannot get around that by saying he wrote a paraphrase down on a piece of paper.’
    • ‘Below is a bitty paraphrase of a section of the lecture, a section concerning Derrida.’
    • ‘The apparatus gives readings from several editions, the note gives clear paraphrases of the two originals, and a two-page long note reviews reasoning and approaches by all the major editors.’
    • ‘All the way through there are phrases, paraphrases and constructions that strike me as unoriginal.’
    • ‘In fact, many are direct paraphrases of the Psalms and other important Scripture texts.’
    • ‘The simple paraphrases of Scripture, the fact-filled descriptions of life in first-century Palestine, and the gentle words of Jesus stirred my heart.’
    • ‘In his early years as a teacher he wrote explanatory paraphrases of many of Aristotle's works, setting a pattern of exegesis which continued to be followed throughout the Middle Ages.’
    • ‘But of course you can't include URLs in wire stories - it's just not done, and, after all, why would readers want to see actual data when they can read general paraphrases?’
    • ‘In a few cases there even seem to be traces of the use of the Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew text which are known as the ‘targums’.’
    • ‘Some anthems have texts in verse - for example psalm paraphrases or hymns, or even original poems - though none of these were termed ‘anthem’ until well into the 19th century.’
    • ‘This is a paraphrase, but it does convey the flavour.’
    • ‘The interviews were taped, transcribed, and translated: the texts should be considered as paraphrases.’
    • ‘I finally had to end it when his paraphrases of what I said became more and more outrageous and inaccurate.’
    • ‘The phrases in quotations are paraphrases of Article IV of the Bill of Rights.’
    • ‘That was my best paraphrase of all the CNA reports about the barrage.’
    • ‘The following is not a transcript, but a paraphrase of statements and positions.’
    • ‘It was that old newspaper trick of using single inverted commas, safe in the knowledge that most readers wouldn't know this meant it was a paraphrase.’
    • ‘Indeed, Digby, bravo on mastering the art of the paraphrase in mere weeks.’
    • ‘As an author, I can say that there is nothing more disconcerting than to read numerous paragraphs in another book that are hauntingly similar paraphrases of one's own work.’
    • ‘This means, in turn, that while many of his paraphrases of little known Italian texts are fascinating, his interpretations are problematic.’
    rewording, rephrasing, rewriting, rewrite, restatement, restating, rehash, rendition, rendering, version, interpretation, gloss
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (as a noun): via Latin from Greek paraphrasis, from paraphrazein, from para- (expressing modification) + phrazein tell.