Definition of restraint in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɪˈstreɪnt/


1 (often restraints) A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control: decisions are made within the financial restraints of the budget
More example sentences
  • He was legal head of the executive, but nearly all his functions were subject to external restraints and under constant supervision by a council elected at the Diet.
  • Making a film is like choosing a set of restraints, and then trying to express yourself within those restraints.
  • Physical restraints of stage production limit the narrative range that would be available within a purely verbal medium such as the epic.
1.1 [mass noun] The action of keeping someone or something under control: a policy of restraint in public spending
More example sentences
  • Further, a certain measure of restraint was a condition of sanity amidst the new atmosphere of material abundance.
  • Because cows were not separated from their groups for restraint and treatment, the chance of mixing groups was decreased.
  • The defendants in this case did not break into any computers - and saying that they did is bad for those who value liberty and prosecutorial restraint.
1.2 [mass noun] Deprivation or restriction of personal liberty or freedom of movement: he remained aggressive and required physical restraint
More example sentences
  • Throughout all of her songs, the same common feeling came through; loss of freedom, restraint, dominance, sorrow.
  • And all this just involves the direct restraint on liberty.
  • The meeting noted that the Claimant frequently requires physical restraint and at times intra muscular medication.
constraint, check, control, restriction, limitation, curtailment;
rein, bridle, brake, damper, deterrent, hindrance, impediment, obstacle, retardant, inhibition
informal clampdown, wet blanket
confinement, captivity, custody, detention, imprisonment, internment, incarceration, constraint, committal, quarantine, arrest
archaic duress
rare detainment
1.3A device which limits or prevents freedom of movement: car safety restraints
More example sentences
  • This car has some of the best seats available at any price and Saab's active safety head restraints have become an industry standard.
  • Tynra tugged at the restraints nailed to the dungeon wall.
  • She manages to make a perfectly normal question sound like it's accompanied by a dagger and broken restraints.
belt, harness, strap
2 [mass noun] Unemotional, dispassionate, or moderate behaviour; self-control: he urged the protestors to exercise restraint
More example sentences
  • Stone insisted that the judiciary should exercise restraint and recognize the need for the legislative and executive branches to respond to the Great Depression.
  • She admired Em's self-control and emotional restraint, yes, but Mona didn't want to be like Em.
  • As general and president, he employed the power available to him but with moderation and restraint.
self-control, self-restraint, self-discipline, control, moderation, temperateness, abstemiousness, non-indulgence, prudence, judiciousness
reserve, self-restraint, self-control, self-possession, lack of emotion, sobriety, coldness, formality, aloofness, detachment, reticence, uncommunicativeness
2.1Understatement, especially of artistic expression: with strings and piano, all restraint vanished
More example sentences
  • This replaced the open emotional force and physical excitement of ‘hot’ jazz with deliberate understatement and restraint.
  • Unencumbered by stylistic restraint, the paintings, prints and drawings present a visionary social realm, freed from the conventions of naturalist description.
  • Her poems are notable for a restraint of expression combined with a powerful and passionate content which distinguish her from many of her Georgian contemporaries.
subtlety, mutedness, understatedness, taste, tastefulness, delicacy, delicateness, discretion, discrimination


Late Middle English: from Old French restreinte, feminine past participle of restreindre 'hold back' (see restrain).

Words that rhyme with restraint

acquaint, ain't, attaint, complaint, constraint, distraint, faint, feint, paint, plaint, quaint, saint, taint

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: re|straint

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