Definition of restraint in English:


Syllabification: re·straint
Pronunciation: /rəˈstrānt


1 (often restraints) A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits: 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.
1.1The action of keeping someone or something under control.
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.
1.2Deprivation 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.
1.3A device that 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
2Unemotional, dispassionate, or moderate behavior; self-control: he urged the protesters 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.
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, understatedness, taste, tastefulness, discretion, discrimination


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

Definition of restraint in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day retroflex
Pronunciation: ˈretrəˌfleks
turned backward