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[ri-fahyn] /rɪˈfaɪn/
verb (used with object), refined, refining.
to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities:
to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum.
to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured.
to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.
to make more fine, subtle, or precise:
to refine one's writing style.
verb (used without object), refined, refining.
to become pure:
The silver is refining in the furnace.
to become more fine, elegant, or polished:
His parents hope that his manners will refine as he gets older.
to make fine distinctions in thought or language.
Verb phrases
refine on/upon, to improve by inserting finer distinctions, superior elements, etc.:
to refine on one's previous work.
Origin of refine
1575-85; re- + fine1
Related forms
refinable, adjective
refiner, noun
prerefine, verb (used with object), prerefined, prerefining.
self-refining, adjective
superrefine, verb (used with object), superrefined, superrefining.
unrefining, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for refining
  • But he says that he looks forward to refining the system.
  • refining models that may be used to generate or organize or communicate economic knowledge.
  • They put effort and resources into collecting them, refining them, understanding what they say about their performance.
  • The difference is that our kind of people kept refining those tools, which were made by chipping off thin layers of stone.
  • Cezanne was not content to spend his last years merely refining what was already an extraordinary achievement.
  • On the top of the hill was a huge iron kettle, or something of the kind, probably used for sugar refining.
  • refining aluminum from bauxite requires a considerable amount of energy.
  • After a refining process, the aluminum cans are melted into solid metal blocks called ingots.
  • The effort focuses on refining agricultural practices in the watershed.
  • If it's not extracted during the natural gas refining process, helium simply soars off when the gas is burned, unrecoverable.
British Dictionary definitions for refining


to make or become free from impurities, sediment, or other foreign matter; purify
(transitive) to separate (a mixture) into pure constituents, as in an oil refinery
to make or become free from coarse characteristics; make or become elegant or polished
(transitive) often foll by out. to remove (something impure or extraneous)
(intransitive; often foll by on or upon) to enlarge or improve (upon) by making subtle or fine distinctions
(transitive) to make (language) more subtle or polished
Derived Forms
refinable, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from re- + fine1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for refining



1580s, of metals, c.1590 of manners, from re-, intensive prefix, + obsolete fine (v.) "make fine," from fine (adj.) "delicate." Cf. French raffiner, Italian raffinare, Spanish refinar. General and figurative sense is recorded from 1590s; of sugar, from 1610s. Related: Refined; refining.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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refining in Medicine

refine re·fine (rĭ-fīn')
v. re·fined, re·fin·ing, re·fines
To reduce to a pure state; purify.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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