Definition of restraint in English:


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  • 1often restraintsA measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits.

    ‘decisions are made within the financial restraints of the budget’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The wildness in these collaborations is about stretching the parameters of possibility within printmaking restraints.’
    • ‘To the film's credit, it certainly makes the best of a small medium, doing the best it can within the limited time restraints.’
    • ‘Financial restraints have denied him the chance to remove his lower legs and replace them with artificial limbs that would enable him to run and jump again.’
    • ‘Safety, when construed as the prevention of evil, is achieved by imposing prior restraints on people's conduct.’
    • ‘Existing programs must be consolidated, downsized, or eliminated to meet current or reduced budget restraints.’
    • ‘Livestock farmers claim that calling a vet to livestock only happens in extreme emergencies anyway, because of the financial restraints on farming.’
    • ‘Bracton imagined a divinely appointed ruler deputed as ‘vicar of God’, who was subject to no earthly restraints beyond his own wisdom.’
    • ‘We accept these restraints on our liberty, because they're needed in order to get adequate security.’
    • ‘Erik's mannerisms were very much like one who was raised under both the disciplines of a soldier, but also the restraints of a gentleman.’
    • ‘Society's methodical and systemic ideals stand challenged wherever individual freedom is put under any restraint.’
    • ‘Strong extended family ties tend to exercise a restraint on deviant behavior, and family meetings are often called to settle problems before they become public.’
    • ‘Budgetary restraints dictated simple external works with good connections between the precinct, the river, and the two public parks.’
    • ‘Even voluntary export restraints, illegal under the new rules, began to resurface.’
    • ‘Apart from budget restraints, McKean and Gaiman were otherwise free to be extremely inventive.’
    • ‘The composer chafed under programmatic restraints and felt more comfortable with formal design, a sign of the symphonist to come.’
    • ‘We need to understand your aims and expectations as well as any budget restraints you might have.’
    • ‘I think it would be unrealistic if I quickly tried to make them friends within the time restraints of this story.’
    1. 1.1The action of keeping someone or something under control.
      ‘a policy of restraint in public spending’
      • ‘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.’
      restraint, restraining, holding back, keeping back, biting back, suppression, keeping in check, control, keeping under control, stifling, smothering, bottling up
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    2. 1.2Deprivation or restriction of personal liberty or freedom of movement.
      ‘he remained aggressive and required physical restraint’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Their official role in the courts encompassed analogous responsibilities, restraint of criminals and conservation of justice.’
      constraint, check, control, restriction, limitation, curtailment
      confinement, captivity, custody, detention, imprisonment, internment, incarceration, constraint, committal, quarantine, arrest
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    3. 1.3A device which limits or prevents freedom of movement.
      ‘car safety restraints’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He removed the lock pick and began to pick at the locks holding his restraints down.’
      • ‘She fastened a few restraints to keep me from moving and told me to stay calm.’
      • ‘Her hands and legs were buckled down in restraints and her head as well, restricting her movements.’
      • ‘One of them flashed a signal to the nanoprocessor that controlled the bed and the restraints clicked off.’
      • ‘Unable to move beyond the fixed boundaries imposed on her by the chain restraints, exercise was difficult.’
      • ‘She tugged desperately at her restraints as memory came flooding back, but the chains seemed to be unbreakable.’
      • ‘With a sudden burst of energy and a well timed tug on her chains, Percephony was able to break her restraints.’
      • ‘One of the white figures took off her arm restraints as another undid the leg restraints.’
      • ‘The NSC has produced a new booklet on Child Safety in Cars, designed to advise parents on selecting and fitting suitable restraints.’
      • ‘I long to move - my whole body trembles with excitement - but the restraints on my legs and wrists keep me firmly in place.’
      • ‘There were fewer staff, poorer conditions, and a greater resort to restraints such as strait-jackets to control unruly patients.’
      • ‘Never place a rear facing child restraint in front of a passenger side air bag.’
      • ‘A novel cover for a safety restraint device is disclosed.’
      • ‘All five seats now have three-point seat belts and are fitted with head restraints.’
      • ‘He says Earnhardt died because he was not wearing a head and neck restraint.’
      • ‘The paramedics now have him turned over and he is in a neck restraint.’
      • ‘What is the policy on using physical restraints or medications to control behavior?’
      belt, harness, strap
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  • 2Unemotional, dispassionate, or moderate behavior; self-control.

    ‘he urged the protesters to exercise restraint’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The hospitality industry has been urged to exercise restraint in effecting price increases to avoid discouraging tourists from coming to the country in preference to more affordable destinations.’
    • ‘Their call on commercial banks to exercise restraint when extending credit may just be the first warning that they are preparing themselves for a marked decrease in demand from consumers in the States.’
    • ‘Despite calls for investors to exercise patriotic restraint, the market opened with an avalanche of sell orders, driving the Dow to its largest point loss in history.’
    • ‘They're really bombarding the kids, and they're not perhaps willing to exercise any kind of restraint toward marketing on campuses?’
    • ‘You need to exercise care and restraint when you slip the CPU into the socket.’
    • ‘It took time before James realized that, while he was much richer than he had been in Scotland, he still needed to exercise restraint.’
    • ‘I always said manageable if we continued to pursue policies to promote economic growth and exercised responsible fiscal restraint.’
    • ‘Because defense counsel had not been permitted to address the jury in trials, it had been understood that counsel for the prosecution would exercise restraint in their speeches.’
    • ‘With so many different guest artists, it becomes increasingly difficult for Tricky to exercise restraint on their contributions.’
    • ‘They suggested that a failure to act would mean that the government would be able to extend the copyright term on future occasions, without judicial restraint.’
    • ‘The point was to emphasise, for better or worse, that you live well, you survive, when you learn restraint, self-discipline and separation.’
    • ‘We urged restraint and respect, putting relief for the families above all else.’
    • ‘I urge restraint on honourable members so they respect the contribution of another member.’
    • ‘Finally decorum and restraint are swept aside, and the voice explodes, white with anger.’
    • ‘For four decades he has quietly been a voice of reason and restraint in a critical world prone to overstatement.’
    • ‘He was still very young, especially by Drow standards, but his smile had given way to an expression of restraint, and his little arms and legs had grown long and thick.’
    • ‘Democratic, interest-group politics offered the right combination of freedom and restraint for beings so demonstrably divided against themselves.’
    • ‘Intensity is what she is after and you don't normally get that by pulling your punches, though of course understatement and restraint can sometimes be equally effective.’
    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
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    1. 2.1Understatement, especially of artistic expression.
      ‘with strings and piano, all restraint vanished’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The potential for spatial ambiguity - for drama, almost - enriches the loveliness of the objects and the muted restraint with which they are depicted.’
      • ‘Erith's extreme architectural restraint was typical of his work up to the mid 1950s.’
      • ‘The classical restraint and emotional detachment of Bronzino's work reveal a temperament quite unlike that of his master Pontormo.’
      • ‘This tonal restraint also contributes to the antique look of the works, whose distressed and pocked surfaces appear to have weathered over time.’
      • ‘Its mawkish sentimentality and studied compositional restraint is typical of high Victorian genre painting shown at the Fair.’
      • ‘The sculptures, which can attain a rather large size, begin to feel like musical variations on a single theme: the beauty and restraint of a geometric idiom.’
      • ‘The installation radiated elegance, precision and restraint, especially in its subtle use of color.’
      • ‘Following the birth of his son, he gave himself over to a rapturous, sensual engagement with paint that seemed to fly in the face of his previous restraint.’
      • ‘It is a splendid novel composed with a poised restraint and admirably captures the contrast between Henry James's vibrant fiction and the elusive, undramatic quality of his own life.’
      • ‘Vigroux and Evett are both accomplished players, and have enough experience to recognize that good instrumental music is an exercise in restraint.’
      • ‘The design is an exercise in restraint, from the unadorned raised back to the discreet rope moulded rim, to the gentle curve of the sabre supports that end on paw feet.’
      • ‘The next few tracks exercise more restraint but fortunately don't compromise any of the fire of the opening track.’
      • ‘The design of new offices for a firm of lawyers in the southern Spanish city of Cadiz proclaims the virtues of elegant restraint, use of few materials, and manipulation of marvellous south light.’
      • ‘Musical, with a clear, refined technique and a demeanor that favors restraint over flashiness, he appears to many the embodiment of the high classicist.’
      • ‘Leo A Daly appears to have balanced modern design, polished materials, and vibrant colors with just the right amount of formal restraint.’
      • ‘This restraint from easy sentiment sets the tone for the rest of the film.’
      • ‘With its moonlit beams and gentle currents, Adventure is an addictive album, deftly illustrating that great emotional strength can be wrought from an attitude of restraint and levity.’
      subtlety, mutedness, understatedness, taste, tastefulness, delicacy, delicateness, discretion, discrimination
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/rəˈstrānt/ /rəˈstreɪnt/


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