tr.v. re·strained, re·strain·ing, re·strains
a. To hold back or keep in check; control: was able restrain his emotions.
b. To prevent (a person or group) from doing something or acting in a certain way: She was restrained from selling the house by her fond memories.
2. To hold, fasten, or secure so as to prevent or limit movement: hair restrained by a bandana; a child restrained by a seat belt.
[Middle English restreinen, from Old French restraindre, restreign-, from Latin restringere, to bind back; see RESTRICT.]
re·strained·ly (-strānĭd-lē) adv.
Synonyms: restrain, curb, check, bridle, inhibit
These verbs mean to hold back or keep under control. Restrain implies restriction or limitation, as on one's freedom of action: "a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another" (Thomas Jefferson).
To curb is to restrain as if with reins: "As a teacher he was rather dull. He curbed his own enthusiasms, finding that they distracted his attention" (E.M. Forster).
Check implies arresting or stopping, often suddenly: "Knowing that Lily disliked to be caressed, she had long ago learned to check her demonstrative impulses toward her friend" (Edith Wharton).
To bridle is often to hold in or govern one's emotions or passions: I tried hard to bridle my anger. Inhibit usually connotes a check on one's actions, thoughts, or emotions: A fear of strangers inhibited his ability to travel.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus