Definition of confine in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈfīn/
[with object] (confine someone/something to)
1Keep or restrict someone or something within certain limits of (space, scope, quantity, or time): he does not confine his message to politics your boating will mostly be confined to a few hours at weekends you’ve confined yourself to what you know
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I must confine my writing to the inside, enclose it within a perimeter, which forms a circular line, an orbit around the text.
  • 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.
enclose, incarcerate, imprison, intern, impound, hold captive, trap;
shut in/up, keep, lock in/up, coop (up);
fence in, hedge in, wall in/up
restrict, limit
1.1 (confine someone to/in) Restrain or forbid someone from leaving (a place): the troops were confined to their barracks
More example sentences
  • 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’.
  • 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.
  • 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.
1.2 (be confined to) (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
More example sentences
  • 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 boss has a daughter who is confined to a wheelchair by a psychosomatic illness.
  • When she was diagnosed with MS at the age of 17, the Failsworth mother-of-two was confined to a wheelchair.
1.3 (be confined) dated (Of a woman) remain in bed for a period before, during, and after the birth of a child: she was confined for nearly a month
More example sentences
  • 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.


Pronunciation: /ˈkänfīn/
1The borders or boundaries of a place, especially with regard to their restricting freedom of movement: they were cramped within the confines of a little cabin
More example sentences
  • This means finding a building within the confines of the town boundary but not too close to the centre of the town.
  • I protested, trying to make my way out of the confines of the restricting hospital sheets.
  • In reality she couldn't think of a safe place within the confines of the building.
limits, margins, extremities, edges, borders, boundaries, fringes, marches;
periphery, perimeter
1.1The limits or restrictions of something abstract, especially a subject or sphere of activity: the narrow confines of political life
More example sentences
  • Inevitably the debate before me has ranged a little wider than the narrow confines of that question.
  • Laura, stifled by the confines of her religion and her boyfriend, dreams of freedom and the ocean.
  • My birding is restricted only by my own inability to escape from the confines of city life.


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.

Words that rhyme with confine

align, assign, benign, brine, chine, cline, combine, condign, consign, dine, divine, dyne, enshrine, entwine, fine, frontline, hardline, interline, intertwine, kine, Klein, line, Main, malign, mine, moline, nine, on-line, opine, outshine, pine, Rhein, Rhine, shine, shrine, sign, sine, spine, spline, stein, Strine, swine, syne, thine, tine, trine, twine, Tyne, underline, undermine, vine, whine, wine

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·fine

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