Define vs. Refine

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Define and Refine is that the Define is a statement that explains the meaning of a term and Refine is a process of purification.

  • Define

    A definition is a statement of the meaning of a term (a word, phrase, or other set of symbols). Definitions can be classified into two large categories, intensional definitions (which try to give the essence of a term) and extensional definitions (which proceed by listing the objects that a term describes). Another important category of definitions is the class of ostensive definitions, which convey the meaning of a term by pointing out examples. A term may have many different senses and multiple meanings, and thus require multiple definitions.In mathematics, a definition is used to give a precise meaning to a new term, instead of describing a pre-existing term. Definitions and axioms are the basis on which all of modern mathematics is constructed.

  • Refine

    Refining (also perhaps called by the mathematical term affining) is the process of purification of a (1) substance or a (2) form. The term is usually used of a natural resource that is almost in a usable form, but which is more useful in its pure form. For instance, most types of natural petroleum will burn straight from the ground, but it will burn poorly and quickly clog an engine with residues and by-products. The term is broad, and may include more drastic transformations, such as the reduction of ore to metal (for which see Refining (metallurgy)).

    The refining of liquids is often accomplished by distillation or fractionation; this process is useful, for example, for isolating different fractions of petroleum. Gases can be refined in this way as well, by being cooled and/or compressed until they liquefy. Gases and liquids can also be refined by extraction with a selective solvent that dissolves away either the substance of interest, or the unwanted impurities.

    Many solids can be refined by growing crystals in a solution of the impure material; the regular structure of the crystal tends to favor the desired material and exclude other kinds of particles.

    Chemical reactions are often used to remove impurities of particular types.

    The use of silicon and other semiconductors in electronics depends on precise control of impurities. The zone melting process developed by William Gardner Pfann was used to produce pure germanium, and subsequently float-zone silicon became available when Henry Theuerer of Bell Labs adapted Pfann’s method to silicon.

    Types of materials that are usually refined:

    metals – see Refining (metallurgy)




    table salt

    vegetable oil



  • Define (verb)

    To determine with precision; to mark out with distinctness; to ascertain or exhibit clearly.

    “the defining power of an optical instrument”

  • Define (verb)

    To settle, decide an argument etc. 16th-17th c.

  • Define (verb)

    To express the essential nature of something.

    “I define myself as a techno-anarchist.”

  • Define (verb)

    To state the meaning of a word, phrase, sign, or symbol.

    “The textbook defined speed as velocity divided by time.”

  • Define (verb)

    To describe, explain, or make definite and clear.

  • Define (verb)

    To demark sharply the outlines or limits of an area or concept.

    “to define the legal boundaries of a property”

  • Define (verb)

    To establish the referent of a term or notation.

  • Define (noun)

    A kind of macro in source code that replaces one text string with another wherever it occurs.

  • Refine (verb)

    To impurities

    “to refine gold”

    “to refine iron”

    “to refine wine”

    “to refine sugar”

  • Refine (verb)

    To become pure; to be cleared of impure matter.

  • Refine (verb)

    To purify of coarseness, vulgarity, inelegance etc.; to polish.

    “to refine someone’s manners”

    “to refine a language”

    “A refined style”

    “to refine one’s tastes”

  • Refine (verb)

    To improve in accuracy, delicacy, or excellence.

  • Refine (verb)

    To make nice or subtle

    “to refine thought”

    “to refine someone’s language”

  • Define (verb)

    state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of

    “the contract will seek to define the client’s obligations”

  • Define (verb)

    give the meaning of (a word or phrase), especially in a dictionary

    “the dictionary defines it as ‘a type of pasture’”

  • Define (verb)

    make up or establish the character or essence of

    “for some, the football club defines their identity”

  • Define (verb)

    mark out the boundary or limits of

    “the river defines the park’s boundary”

  • Define (verb)

    make clear the outline of; delineate

    “she defined her eyes by applying eyeshadow to her eyelids”

  • Refine (verb)

    remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance), typically as part of an industrial process

    “sugar was refined by boiling it in huge iron vats”

  • Refine (verb)

    make minor changes so as to improve or clarify (a theory or method)

    “ease of access to computers has refined analysis and presentation of data”

Oxford Dictionary

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