Definition of refine in English:



  • 1 Remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process.

    ‘sugar was refined by boiling it in huge iron vats’
    • ‘It refines the silver to 99.9% purity and then sells it to London bullion markets.’
    • ‘Arabs were probably the first to cultivate and refine sugar around the Mediterranean.’
    • ‘Traditionally, low-grade heroin is refined from Afghan opium.’
    • ‘The second heating refines the coarse grains and leaves the steel in a softened condition.’
    • ‘Though it will be hard to prove in court, the drug was probably refined in North Korea, from opium poppies grown there as part of a deliberate government program.’
    • ‘It used to be a real problem to refine sugar before his invention made the process simpler and more profitable.’
    • ‘A large portion of imported Nigerian oil is refined into gasoline due to its low sulfur content.’
    • ‘So we need more refineries or we at least more refining capacity.’
    • ‘Just weeks after the refinery had resumed production of petroleum products, a fire has again swept through one of the furnaces that refines petrol.’
    • ‘The process gradually refines the steel - compacting the grain while adjusting the carbon content.’
    • ‘Most horticultural oils are refined from crude oil.’
    • ‘Copper sulfate comes from refining the metal and is used as a fungicide.’
    • ‘When oil is refined this reaction is used to remove unwanted alkenes.’
    • ‘It handles 40% of the UK's oil production and 90% of Scotland's oil and gas is refined there.’
    • ‘The government would also encourage joint ventures and private sector investment in petroleum refining.’
    • ‘The mining corporation stations thrived as they specialised in refining the raw materials needed by everyone.’
    • ‘But perhaps the most impressive feat was refining the oil to run vehicles.’
    • ‘In the 150 years human being have drilled for and refined petroleum, it's estimated we've used about 1 trillion barrels.’
    • ‘It now refines Saudi oil and has emerged as a banking powerhouse for the Islamic world.’
    • ‘Mineral extraction is important: crude oil is refined and exported, there are large coal, tin, and iron ore deposits, and China leads the world in tungsten ore production.’
    purify, clarify, clear, cleanse, strain, sift, filter, rarefy, distil, concentrate, process, treat
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Improve (something) by making small changes, in particular make (an idea, theory, or method) more subtle and accurate.
      ‘ease of access to computers has refined analysis and presentation of data’
      • ‘Anderson's original design was then refined by Bill Lloyd, CCA's public relations department manager.’
      • ‘Our consensus now maintains social equilibrium by the more refined method of suppressing forms of thought.’
      • ‘I try to touch on topics that I feel are universal, and refine my methods of communication so what I'm saying is clear to any listener.’
      • ‘He attempted to simplify and refine existing theories and to present them from new perspectives.’
      • ‘Good investors continually refine their stock picking method, tweaking it here and there.’
      • ‘The author refines a paper to the point that it is ready for exposure and discussion.’
      • ‘From then on, astrophysicists have continually refined the model by looking closer and closer.’
      • ‘The questionnaire was further refined on the basis of their feedback.’
      • ‘We then used the results of our analysis to refine the original theory and to add to the literature in new ways.’
      • ‘The frying method was refined by the Japanese into the light, crispy, yummy treat we know today.’
      • ‘Rundle and Holliday are working to refine the method and find new ways to visualize the data.’
      • ‘The Navy built upon the work of McCarty Little, continually refining his technique.’
      • ‘After the events of the last week, it looks as if we have merely refined our methods.’
      • ‘Universities not only transmit knowledge, they also refine existing knowledge and develop new knowledge and ideas.’
      • ‘The American system of training has been refined over the years and at no time is a trainee left unsupervised.’
      • ‘Freud's theories were incidental - useful in refining traditional methods of popular control perhaps, but a sideshow.’
      • ‘The premise is correct: there has been progress; theories are refined, generalised, clarified, simplified, and perfected.’
      • ‘Laws against sexual harassment have been refined over the years, including harassment at the workplace.’
      • ‘The course materials and the presentation methods were progressively refined for each course.’
      • ‘The concept was subsequently refined by Myers and CI, most recently in 2000.’


Late 16th century: from re- again + the verb fine, influenced by French raffiner.