Definition of paraphrase
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Definition of paraphrase (Entry 2 of 2)
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When we paraphrase, we provide a version that can exist beside the original (rather than replace it). We paraphrase all the time. When you tell a friend what someone else has said, you're almost always paraphrasing, since you're not repeating the exact words. If you go to hear a talk, you might paraphrase the speaker's main points afterward for your friends. And when writing a paper on a short story, you might start off your essay with a paraphrase of the plot. Paraphrasing is especially useful when dealing with poetry, since poetic language is often difficult and poems may have meanings that are hard to pin down.
Examples of paraphrase in a Sentence
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paraphrase.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Noun and Verb
Middle French, from Latin paraphrasis , from Greek, from paraphrazein to paraphrase, from para- + phrazein to point out
1548, in the meaning defined at sense 1
1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense
Dictionary Entries Near paraphrase
Cite this Entry
“Paraphrase.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paraphrase. Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.
Kids definition of paraphrase.
Kids Definition of paraphrase (Entry 2 of 2)
More from Merriam-Webster on paraphrase
Nglish: Translation of paraphrase for Spanish Speakers
Britannica English: Translation of paraphrase for Arabic Speakers
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about paraphrase
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Paraphrase in american english, examples of 'paraphrase' in a sentence paraphrase, trends of paraphrase.
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In other languages paraphrase
- American English : paraphrase / ˈpærəfreɪz /
- Brazilian Portuguese : parafrasear
- Chinese : 释义
- European Spanish : parafrasear
- French : paraphraser
- German : umschreiben
- Italian : parafrasare
- Japanese : 別の言葉で言い換える
- Korean : 다른 말로 바꿔서 설명하다
- European Portuguese : parafrasear
- Latin American Spanish : parafrasear
- Brazilian Portuguese : paráfrase
- Chinese : 改述
- European Spanish : paráfrasis
- French : paraphrase
- German : Umschreibung
- Italian : parafrasi
- Japanese : 言い換え
- Korean : 다른 말로 바꿔서 설명한 것
- European Portuguese : paráfrase
- Latin American Spanish : paráfrasis
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a restatement of a text or passage giving the meaning in another form, as for clearness; rewording.
the act or process of restating or rewording.
to render the meaning of in a paraphrase: to paraphrase a technical paper for lay readers.
to make a paraphrase or paraphrases.
Origin of paraphrase
Synonym study for paraphrase, other words for paraphrase, other words from paraphrase.
- par·a·phras·a·ble, adjective
- par·a·phras·er, noun
- mis·par·a·phrase, verb, mis·par·a·phrased, mis·par·a·phras·ing.
- un·par·a·phrased, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use paraphrase in a sentence
“We want bread and social justice,” she contends, paraphrasing the slogan of the revolt that toppled Mubarak.
(I'm paraphrasing here) Why would anyone need an assault-style rifle anyway?
Paraphrasing LBJ, McCain said: “I just wish one of them had run for county sheriff.”
In such general explanations as are unavoidable we shall content ourselves with paraphrasing M. Maspero.
Paraphrasing the copy-book, suppressed desires will arise, though all the world o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
Of Cephus it might be said, paraphrasing the lines about little dog Rover, that when he was saved he was saved all over.
Oscar was always fond of loosely quoting or paraphrasing in conversation the purple passages from contemporary writers.
It would be hopeless to attempt, by any paraphrasing whatever, to improve upon the freshness and vivacity of the author.
British Dictionary definitions for paraphrase
/ ( ˈpærəˌfreɪz ) /
an expression of a statement or text in other words, esp in order to clarify
the practice of making paraphrases
to put (something) into other words; restate (something)
Derived forms of paraphrase
- paraphrastic ( ˌpærəˈfræstɪk ), adjective
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
Cultural definitions for paraphrase
A restatement of speech or writing that retains the basic meaning while changing the words. A paraphrase often clarifies the original statement by putting it into words that are more easily understood.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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Paraphrasing Explained: Definition, Techniques, and Examples for Effective Writing
Table of contents
When writing content such as an essay or a blog article, you might come across a sentence or a paragraph that you found intriguing from someone else’s work and wanted to include in yours. But you can't use the exact words, right?
Here’s a little secret, you can by paraphrasing.
But what is paraphrasing?
Tweaking and restructuring the sentences is called paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is a tool that not only tweaks sentences but also improves your writing and reading skills.
Here we have shared what paraphrasing is, its benefits, and examples. Keep reading to find out.
What is paraphrasing?
It means, especially in a shorter and simpler form, to make the meaning clearer, along with your thoughts/comments. In addition to borrowing, clarifying, or expanding on information and your comments, paraphrasing is doing all the above-stated actions without plagiarizing the information.
Why do people paraphrase?
There are several reasons why people paraphrase. Following are some of the reasons for paraphrasing.
- Paraphrasing helps avoid plagiarism.
- It also provides support for claims or adds credibility to the writing.
- It demonstrates your understanding and provides an alternative method to using indirect and direct quotes in your own words (referenced) infrequently.
- Paraphrasing in academic research helps utilize source material for writing essays, providing evidence that the essay is appropriately referenced.
- Paraphrasing in writing helps you ensure that you use sources to communicate something important to your readers.
What is paraphrasing plagiarism?
Plagiarism is stealing someone else’s ideas without acknowledgment. Plagiarism can come in several forms: global, verbatim, patchwork, paraphrase, and self-plagiarism. However, except for global plagiarism, the other types of plagiarism are often accidental.
Although paraphrasing is accepted , rephrasing sentences or paraphrasing someone else’s idea without citing or acknowledgment is considered paraphrasing plagiarism. Even when translating someone else’s words, if the translated text from another language is not cited, this is also a type of paraphrasing plagiarism.
What is the difference between summarizing and paraphrasing?
Summarizing is a concise statement that briefs the contents of the passage, whereas paraphrasing is when you rewrite sentences using your own words. There is more than one difference between summarizing and paraphrasing.
Refer to the following comparison chart to learn the differences between summarizing and paraphrasing, besides their definition.
How to paraphrase?
Following are 5 digestible paraphrasing tips you can incorporate when paraphrasing your sentences.
Identify the important parts
Since paraphrasing demonstrates your understanding of the original material, it is important to understand its meaning. To do so, read and re-read the original content until you understand the idea enough to explain it in your own words.
Once you get the original source's concept, reduce it to the key concepts or points and not focus on the sentence structures. Another way to rewrite or reword the source without losing your key points is by using a paraphrasing tool .
Change up the words
While noting down the concepts or key points, change up the words by using synonyms. But if you face writer's block and can’t find the right words, which can make your content incompetent, make use of rewording tools .
AI rewording tools can come up with synonyms, organize your phrases, and enhance your sentence structure. Moreover, an AI wording tool ensures the content is unique, original, and plagiarism-free.
Make sure meaning is preserved
Although paraphrasing requires rewording and changing the words, ensure that the same meaning must be maintained along with the ideas. In addition to that, keep your word choices lucid and simple to convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original source.
One way to keep your writing consistent when paraphrasing is by using paraphrasing tools . The AI tool can alter the sentence structure while maintaining the original meaning.
Double-check for grammar and punctuation
When paraphrasing, ensure to double-check and compare them with the original passage. Make adjustments to ensure it’s completely rewritten and that the grammar and punctuations are on point.
Double-checking your work for grammar and punctuation by reviewing it more than once improves the quality of your work. Paragraph rewriters use AI for paraphrasing, which can tweak the tonality and narrative, ensures a grammar check, and makes the content concise and conceivable.
Use an online paraphrasing tool like Writesonic
As stated previously in the article, using a paraphrasing tool is the fastest and fool-proof way to paraphrase your sources without plagiarizing them. One such creative AI writing tool that assists you with paraphrasing is Writesonic .
Writersonic is trained on billions of parameters. It refines the grammar, spelling, and style to generate original, paraphrased content. In addition to that, Writersonic generates unique and plagiarism-free content that resonates with the target audience with just one click.
With AI chatbots like ChatGPT by Open AI and ChatSonic by Writesonic taking away all the limelight in 2023, they can also be used effectively for paraphrasing text.
Different strategies for paraphrasing
Even though there are AI paraphrasing tools to make the work easier, the following are different strategies you can use to paraphrase your sentence.
Understanding the main ideas
One of the strategies for successful paraphrasing is understanding the source's main idea and writing style. Because when you understand the idea behind the sentence, it becomes easier to explain in your own words.
After taking note of the important nouns and verbs, see which synonyms might be appropriate to replace. You can use a synonym that expresses the same meaning for the key concepts or points in the original sentence.
When you use synonyms, it is given that the structure may also need a little changing. So, instead of just swapping a single word, make appropriate changes around the words to make sense of the sentence. Here your paraphrasing skills come to play.
Here is an example of paraphrasing: “ According to scientists, there is another method to achieve a pollution-free environment.”
The paraphrased content would say something like - “Scientists found an alternate way to attain a pollution-free environment.”
In the above sentence, the adjective ‘according to’ is swapped with the verb ‘found’ along with other necessary changes. These changes are made to maintain a harmonious connection between the words and to make the sentence sensible while retaining its meaning and avoiding plagiarism.
Focusing on syntax
The syntax is the arrangement of words in a specific order written in well-formed phrases or sentences. And while paraphrasing is about restating or rewording, ensure to focus on the well-structured and grammatically correct sentences by making appropriate connections or paraphrases.
Benefits of paraphrasing
Paraphrasing has some benefits that you can reap in aspects of your writing skills and learning abilities.
Improves writing skills
As discovered, paraphrasing requires you to paraphrase the passages in your own words, which may help refurbish your writing skills. Rewriting or paraphrasing is a favorable writing skill in writing essays or research papers.
Paraphrasing allows you to express ideas or information in a refreshing and simple manner. It provides an opportunity to enhance your writing skills and stop plagiarizing someone else’s work. This includes rewriting and expressing the ideas in your own voice.
Comprehension is understanding the written material and explaining what is read. As stated previously, paraphrasing demonstrates your understanding of the complex details from the source and your ability to explain the connections between main points.
Moreover, it was found that paraphrasing for comprehension is an excellent tool for reinforcing reading skills. It can assist by identifying the main ideas, finding supporting details, and identifying the original author's voice.
So when you rewrite the sentence in your own words, you can double-check your comprehension. This helps improve your awareness and allows you to gain a better understanding of the content, and allows you to write better.
To paraphrase words or phrases, you must extract their meaning by reading the material again and again and fully understanding the context. This allows the reader to understand the original statement more clearly by adding more clarity to it. So when you paraphrase the original phrase, you articulate your thoughts and ideas more clearly and come up with new insights and perspectives on the topic..
Saves time & energy
Creating content from scratch is difficult and requires much time and energy. It requires you to do proper research, which is both time and energy-consuming.
An easy solution to the painstaking process is paraphrasing your sentence with appropriate citations. This will allow you to create the content without spending much time on research and ideation, saving much of your time and energy.
Helps avoid plagiarism
Among all the benefits, the most favorable benefit of paraphrasing is that it helps you avoid the accusation of plagiarism. You are simply committing plagiarism (an offense as stated by the federal government) when you use the same idea and speech from the original text, word by word.
However, by rewording the original source, you can present the ideas in your own words and easily avoid plagiarism. What’s more, paraphrasing can save you in both accidental and deliberate cases of plagiarism.
Now that we have known all about paraphrasing, its reasons for use, and its benefits, let’s look at some examples of paraphrasing and how exactly you can paraphrase.
#1 Example of Paraphrasing
#2 example of paraphrasing, final words.
Once you grasp the concept of paraphrasing, it can be a powerful tool for writers. It provides several benefits in aspects of writing and learning skills. And the correct way and right use of paraphrasing can protect writers from plagiarism accusations.
However, note that successful and correct paraphrasing requires the use of multiple techniques each time. So it is not sufficient to simply replace the keywords or the main concepts with synonyms.
One of the easiest ways to reword the original source is by using an AI writing tool. Writersonic is a well-known AI paraphrasing tool that can refine grammar, spelling, and style to generate original plagiarism-free AI content .
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- How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples
How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples
Published on April 8, 2022 by Courtney Gahan and Jack Caulfield. Revised on June 1, 2023.
Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words. Paraphrasing a source involves changing the wording while preserving the original meaning.
Paraphrasing is an alternative to quoting (copying someone’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks ). In academic writing, it’s usually better to integrate sources by paraphrasing instead of quoting. It shows that you have understood the source, reads more smoothly, and keeps your own voice front and center.
Every time you paraphrase, it’s important to cite the source . Also take care not to use wording that is too similar to the original. Otherwise, you could be at risk of committing plagiarism .
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Table of contents
How to paraphrase in five easy steps, how to paraphrase correctly, examples of paraphrasing, how to cite a paraphrase, paraphrasing vs. quoting, paraphrasing vs. summarizing, avoiding plagiarism when you paraphrase, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about paraphrasing.
If you’re struggling to get to grips with the process of paraphrasing, check out our easy step-by-step guide in the video below.
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Putting an idea into your own words can be easier said than done. Let’s say you want to paraphrase the text below, about population decline in a particular species of sea snails.
You might make a first attempt to paraphrase it by swapping out a few words for synonyms .
Like other sea creatures inhabiting the vicinity of highly populated coasts, horse conchs have lost substantial territory to advancement and contamination , including preferred breeding grounds along mud flats and seagrass beds. Their Gulf home is also heating up due to global warming , which scientists think further puts pressure on the creatures , predicated upon the harmful effects extra warmth has on other large mollusks (Barnett, 2022).
This attempt at paraphrasing doesn’t change the sentence structure or order of information, only some of the word choices. And the synonyms chosen are poor:
- “Advancement and contamination” doesn’t really convey the same meaning as “development and pollution.”
- Sometimes the changes make the tone less academic: “home” for “habitat” and “sea creatures” for “marine animals.”
- Adding phrases like “inhabiting the vicinity of” and “puts pressure on” makes the text needlessly long-winded.
- Global warming is related to climate change, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing.
Because of this, the text reads awkwardly, is longer than it needs to be, and remains too close to the original phrasing. This means you risk being accused of plagiarism .
Let’s look at a more effective way of paraphrasing the same text.
- Only included the information that’s relevant to our argument (note that the paraphrase is shorter than the original)
- Introduced the information with the signal phrase “Scientists believe that …”
- Retained key terms like “development and pollution,” since changing them could alter the meaning
- Structured sentences in our own way instead of copying the structure of the original
- Started from a different point, presenting information in a different order
Because of this, we’re able to clearly convey the relevant information from the source without sticking too close to the original phrasing.
Explore the tabs below to see examples of paraphrasing in action.
- Journal article
- Newspaper article
- Magazine article
Once you have your perfectly paraphrased text, you need to ensure you credit the original author. You’ll always paraphrase sources in the same way, but you’ll have to use a different type of in-text citation depending on what citation style you follow.
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It’s a good idea to paraphrase instead of quoting in most cases because:
- Paraphrasing shows that you fully understand the meaning of a text
- Your own voice remains dominant throughout your paper
- Quotes reduce the readability of your text
But that doesn’t mean you should never quote. Quotes are appropriate when:
- Giving a precise definition
- Saying something about the author’s language or style (e.g., in a literary analysis paper)
- Providing evidence in support of an argument
- Critiquing or analyzing a specific claim
A paraphrase puts a specific passage into your own words. It’s typically a similar length to the original text, or slightly shorter.
When you boil a longer piece of writing down to the key points, so that the result is a lot shorter than the original, this is called summarizing .
Paraphrasing and quoting are important tools for presenting specific information from sources. But if the information you want to include is more general (e.g., the overarching argument of a whole article), summarizing is more appropriate.
When paraphrasing, you have to be careful to avoid accidental plagiarism .
This can happen if the paraphrase is too similar to the original quote, with phrases or whole sentences that are identical (and should therefore be in quotation marks). It can also happen if you fail to properly cite the source.
Paraphrasing tools are widely used by students, and can be especially useful for non-native speakers who may find academic writing particularly challenging. While these can be helpful for a bit of extra inspiration, use these tools sparingly, keeping academic integrity in mind.
To make sure you’ve properly paraphrased and cited all your sources, you could elect to run a plagiarism check before submitting your paper. And of course, always be sure to read your source material yourself and take the first stab at paraphrasing on your own.
If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- ChatGPT vs human editor
- ChatGPT citations
- Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
- Using ChatGPT for your studies
- What is ChatGPT?
- Chicago style
- Critical thinking
- Types of plagiarism
- Avoiding plagiarism
- Academic integrity
- Consequences of plagiarism
- Common knowledge
To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:
- Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
- Combining information from multiple sentences into one
- Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
- Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning
The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.
Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.
However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly cite the source . This means including an in-text citation and a full reference, formatted according to your required citation style .
As well as citing, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.
Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas in your own words.
So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?
- Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
- Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
- Paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely in your own words and properly cite the source .
To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.
It’s appropriate to quote when:
- Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
- You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
- You’re presenting a precise definition
- You’re looking in depth at a specific claim
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Gahan, C. & Caulfield, J. (2023, June 01). How to Paraphrase | Step-by-Step Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-paraphrase/
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Paraphrasing - an overview
Paraphrasing is ..., what are the differences between quoting, paraphrasing & summarising .
- Why Paraphrase?
- Paraphrasing versus Plagiarism
- The Do's and Don'ts of Paraphrasing
- Paraphrasing - examples
- Further Information
Paraphrasing is 'a restating of someone else’s thoughts or ideas in your own words. You must always cite your source when paraphrasing’ (Pears & Shields, 2019 p. 245).
(Solas English, 2017)
- Quoting means using someone else’s exact words and putting them in quotation marks..
- Paraphrasing means expressing someone else’s ideas in your own voice, while keeping the same essential meaning.
- Summarising means taking a long passage of text from someone else and condensing the main ideas in your own words.
Watch the video below for more information.
(UNC Writing Center, 2019)
- Next: Why Paraphrase? >>
- Last Updated: Sep 8, 2023 9:42 AM
- URL: https://lit.libguides.com/paraphrasing
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