Definition of restrain in English:



  • 1 Prevent (someone or something) from doing something; keep under control or within limits.

    ‘he had to be restrained from walking out of the meeting’
    ‘Cara put a restraining hand on his arm’
    • ‘The government had worked hard to restrain price rises for the campaigning period.’
    • ‘Such an approach can be termed a ‘balanced-growth budget policy’ in that it restrains government debt to a fixed share of the economy.’
    • ‘There is a stricter test required for a Mareva injunction and for good reason - it restrains the defendant from dealing with his own property thereby requiring proof of a strong prima facie case.’
    • ‘The perpetrator could also apply for an injunction restraining the company from dismissing him or taking disciplinary action following an investigation.’
    • ‘The order against them restrains them from committing a public nuisance, not a private one.’
    • ‘It would produce a report, stating its opinion as to whether or not the proposed takeover would be likely to prevent or restrict competition or restrain trade and would be likely to operate against the common good.’
    • ‘Whatever Reynaud's own preferences in this regard, he was restrained from more radical policies by the more cautious members of his government.’
    • ‘After all, the clergy were keepers of public conscience - it was their duty to restrain avarice, sanctify poverty and excommunicate kings if they chose.’
    • ‘You can heave that rock to the top of the slope, but unless you make a constant effort to restrain it, sooner or later it will come rolling down again.’
    • ‘Bahzell brushed the restraining hand aside and rose.’
    • ‘Ultimately, however, Bryan's attempt to overcome sectionalism by restraining public recollection of the war was no match for the tactics of his opponent.’
    • ‘One wonders whether she is a Madonna or a sailor's wife restraining her tears as she watches her husband's ship depart.’
    • ‘They say the state banks were restrained from inflating to excess by the regular requirement that they pay their balances to the federal branch offices in hard money.’
    • ‘Reisz's camera captures the drama of this specific event, but the film also presages a new mentality and a new freedom that won't be restrained.’
    • ‘Although the government and opposition signed a peace protocol, both are weak and splintered, unable to restrain their rank and file supporters.’
    • ‘It takes a strong amount of concentration to restrain total loss of control’
    • ‘A weak labour market means less money to spend on goods and services and thus restrains economic growth.’
    • ‘Headcount freezes mean they are restrained from filling existing vacancies or creating new ones.’
    • ‘The National Recovery Administration reinvigorated industry by restraining competitive forces and raising prices.’
    • ‘Younger children may strike their older siblings, while older siblings are restrained from hitting back.’
    prohibit, ban, bar, disallow, interdict
    prevent, stop, keep, hold back
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    1. 1.1Prevent oneself from displaying or giving way to (a strong urge or emotion)
      ‘Amos had to restrain his impatience’
      • ‘I didn't want him restraining the need to hug her.’
      • ‘I restrained myself from screaming in anguish.’
      • ‘I replied, unable to restrain my fast spreading grin.’
      • ‘I said with a smile and suddenly I had the urge to bend down and kiss her but I restrained myself from acting my wish.’
      • ‘‘That looks awful,’ she said, restraining all urges to make a noise of pain.’
      • ‘I restrained myself from commenting on the disgusting habit.’
      • ‘Stevie shut his eyes tight, restraining himself, trying to hold his anticipation in check.’
      • ‘Gabrielle ground her teeth contemptuously, restraining herself from yelling back.’
      • ‘At first, I managed to restrain myself, but then I heard a suppressed giggle from the veranda and made the mistake of turning round.’
      • ‘Hightail ran with her cubs and around them, excited by their game, barely restraining herself from joining it.’
      • ‘Lisa rolled her eyes and restrained the urge to tap her foot impatiently.’
      • ‘I was very tempted to grab the ketchup and smear it all over the front of his white dress shirt and his designer jeans but I restrained myself and noted with great relief that the next table over wanted a refill.’
      • ‘Emotional possession refers to experiences wherein impulses which are ordinarily restrained are strongly stimulated.’
      • ‘He reached a hand forward, and Sydney restrained herself out of some strange sense of pride from flinching.’
      • ‘Angelo is a very cold person with no feelings and has restrained himself tremendously throughout his life.’
      • ‘‘Hello sir,’ he said, restraining his urge to jump away from Hope and coolly released her with a gentle pat on the back before holding his hand out to Daniel.’
      • ‘With difficulty, she restrained herself from getting emotional as a result of his sudden kindness.’
      • ‘It took Rhea almost an hour to finally locate this long-lost friend and guardian, and she restrained herself from running into the room.’
      • ‘His shoulders were shaking in an attempt to restrain himself and appear strong in front of his brother.’
      • ‘I growled in frustration and barely restrained myself from ripping the next shirt I grabbed (a beautiful dark green silk, one of my favorites) into pieces.’
      control, keep under control, check, hold in check, keep in check, curb, suppress, repress, contain, keep within bounds, limit, regulate, restrict, moderate, dampen, put a brake on, subdue, smother, choke back, stifle, bridle, leash, bit, muzzle, bottle up, cork, rein back, rein in, keep in
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    2. 1.2Deprive (someone) of freedom of movement or personal liberty.
      ‘leg cuffs are used in the U.S. for restraining and transporting extremely violent and dangerous criminals’
      • ‘She gave up surprisingly easy, and was quickly carted into isolation, restrained by handcuffs.’
      • ‘Detective 1 was explaining to me how it's extremely difficult to restrain someone without hurting them.’
      • ‘She was acting contrary to the woman's legal right not to be physically restrained.’
      • ‘Three were restraining Gregory, whose volatile personality had turned foul.’
      • ‘Finally, he reached into his knapsack, removing a pair of handcuffs and leg shackles to restrain Nathan.’
      • ‘When Sheree tried to go with him, her father physically restrained her.’
      • ‘Then there are people restraining me, and I'm fighting them, stamping hard on feet and lashing out with my body.’
      • ‘Aridene nodded in the direction of the ropes that were presently restraining her.’
      • ‘Finally, psychiatrists in Britain and India diverged on the issue of restraining violent patients.’
      • ‘But before I could make my dramatic exit, Chad appeared out of nowhere and grabbed my wrist, restraining me from movement.’
      • ‘After being restrained by two people, Esther calms down.’
      • ‘The Marshall stepped between them and physically restrained Ben.’
      • ‘I looked up and saw the blonde boy from the checkout, restraining my attacker so tightly that the veins in his arms were popping out, his teeth were clenched and his green eyes were ablaze with fury.’
      • ‘I just stood there and watched powerlessly, as T.J.'s dad violently struggled to restrain his son from running off.’
      • ‘As many of us know from our cops and robbers days, handcuffs are used for restraining someone.’
      • ‘Then, while all of the security guards are busy restraining the ruffians, walk straight backstage and wait for an opportunity to talk to whomever you want.’
      • ‘She made no other movement as the doctors restrained her to the sickbed, just laying there and contemplating furiously.’
      • ‘But as Tirzah ran to kiss her brother, her mother restrained her: they were ‘unclean’ outcasts.’
      • ‘Sammi jumped up from her seat as two musclemen restrained her from leaving the booth.’
      • ‘My left foot became wedged within the glass itself and it felt as if a tight fitting shackle were restraining me.’
      tie up, bind, strap, truss, pinion, lash, tether, fetter, shackle, manacle, put in irons, handcuff
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    3. 1.3(of a seat belt) hold (a person or part of their body) down and back while in a vehicle seat.
      • ‘Fortunately, we had both buckled up and our seat belts restrained us from flying through the windshield, which would have been an even worse thing that could happen.’
      • ‘Silence struck the car as Peter's head slammed into the steering wheel, his seatbelt a tight band restraining his body from flying through the windshield.’
      • ‘I buckled his seatbelt and tightened it, making sure he was securely restrained.’
      • ‘No, for he woke upside down, restrained by a seatbelt connected to a seat in a certain upturned Toyota Avensis.’
      • ‘Jon had stopped the car and I opened the door and tried to step out, only to be tightly restrained by the seatbelt.’
      • ‘Olivia, Ryan and Kayla all reared forward from the sudden stop, only their seat belts keeping them restrained in their seats.’


Middle English: from Old French restreign-, stem of restreindre, from Latin restringere, from re- back + stringere to tie, pull tight.