March 11, 2019
refine (verb)
\rih-FYNE\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : to come or bring to a pure state2 : to make or become improved3 : to free from what is vulgar4 : to improve by introducing something that makes a small difference
How do you use it?
We learned in science class today what happens to gold when it is refined.
Are you a word wiz?

Where do you think we got the verb "refine" from?

If you chose B, fine job! "Refine" is a 16th century word that was created from the prefix "re-" and the verb "fine," which means "to purify." In its earliest uses, "refine" was used primarily to describe the process of removing impurities or dross from metals. This use led to the second meaning we give, "to make or become improved," because refined metals were brighter, clearer, and more valuable. This, in turn, led to the third sense, "to free from what is vulgar," because vulgarity would only make something worse. The fourth meaning is the most interesting. Instead of focusing on the removal of something, it focuses on how the addition of something makes a thing better, as in "New research refined our understanding of the science."
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