Definition of refine in English:

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Pronunciation: /rəˈfīn/


[with object]
1Remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process: sugar was refined by boiling it in huge iron vats
More example sentences
  • The process gradually refines the steel - compacting the grain while adjusting the carbon content.
  • 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.
  • When oil is refined this reaction is used to remove unwanted alkenes.
purify, process, treat
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
More example sentences
  • The premise is correct: there has been progress; theories are refined, generalised, clarified, simplified, and perfected.
  • We then used the results of our analysis to refine the original theory and to add to the literature in new ways.
  • The course materials and the presentation methods were progressively refined for each course.
improve, perfect, polish (up), hone, fine-tune



Pronunciation: /rəˈfīnər/
Example sentences
  • The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today released a report supporting the petrol discounting arrangements between oil refiners and supermarkets.
  • The shortfall has limited refiners ' ability to build up US heating oil stocks, which at 50 million barrels are 10 per cent below last year, weekly government data showed last week.
  • The Prime Minister and his Deputy met representatives of Australia's four major oil refiners in Sydney today to discuss how they'll reach the government's biofuels target.


Late 16th century: from re- 'again' + the verb fine1, influenced by French raffiner.

  • finance from Late Middle English:

    The word finance is from Old French, from finer ‘make an end; settle a debt’, from fin ‘end’. The original sense was ‘payment of a debt, compensation, or ransom’, which later developed into ‘taxation, revenue’. Current senses date from the 18th century. Fine (Middle English) in the sense money you pay, comes from the same source and was originally a sum paid to settle a lawsuit, while the other sense of fine, ‘high quality’ leading to ‘thin’, also Middle English, goes back to the earlier sense ‘thoroughly finished’, and lies behind refine (late 16th century), define (Late Middle English), finery (late 17th century), and finesse (Late Middle English). Finish (Middle English) itself goes back to the same root.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: re·fine

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