Difference Wiki

Restraint vs. Restriction: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 30, 2023
"Restraint" implies self-control or the act of holding back, while "restriction" refers to a rule or condition that limits or confines.

Key Differences

Restraint often involves self-control or moderation in action or behavior. Restriction, on the other hand, is about imposing limits or conditions that confine or control.
Restraint can be voluntary, reflecting an individual's choice to hold back. However, restriction is typically external, imposed by others or circumstances.
In psychology, restraint is associated with personal discipline. In legal or societal contexts, restriction refers to imposed boundaries or rules.
Restraint can be a personal quality or a temporary action. Whereas, restriction often refers to ongoing limitations or rules that are enforced.
Restraint is about controlling impulses or desires. Restriction is about setting boundaries that define what is allowable.

Comparison Chart


Self-imposed, internal control
Externally imposed limits


Personal discipline, holding back
Legal, societal, or physical boundaries


Can be temporary or a personality trait
Often ongoing or fixed


To control impulses or behaviors
To define allowable actions or use


Personal or psychological context
Legal, physical, or regulatory context

Restraint and Restriction Definitions


Holding back from impulsive behavior.
His restraint in spending helped him save money.


A specific boundary set for actions or usage.
There were strict restrictions on water usage during the drought.


Moderation in expression or indulgence.
He exercised restraint in his critique to avoid offending anyone.


A rule or condition that limits.
The park had restrictions on where pets could go.


A measure to control physical movement.
The safety restraints in the car were securely fastened.


A rule that limits what is allowed.
The company's policy included restrictions on personal use of office equipment.


Self-control in actions or emotions.
She showed remarkable restraint in not responding to the provocation.


Limitation of freedom or activity.
The new law imposed travel restrictions.


A device used to limit movement.
The animal was kept in restraint to ensure it didn't escape.


The act of confining or keeping within limits.
Age restrictions prevented him from entering the nightclub.


The act of restraining
Police restraint of the suspect.


A condition that constrains or hinders possibilities.
Financial restrictions made it hard to fund the project.


The condition of being restrained, especially the condition of losing one's freedom
A suspect held in restraint.


The action of restricting or the state of being restricted
The country's restriction of immigration.


Something that restricts; a regulation or limitation
A restriction banning dogs from the beach.


The act of restricting, or the state of being restricted.


A regulation or limitation that restricts.


(biology) The mechanism by which a cell degrades foreign DNA material.


The act of restricting, or state of being restricted; confinement within limits or bounds.
This is to have the same restriction with all other recreations,that it be made a divertisement.


That which restricts; limitation; restraint; as, restrictions on trade.


A principle that limits the extent of something;
I am willing to accept certain restrictions on my movements


An act of limiting or restricting (as by regulation)


The act of keeping something within specified bounds (by force if necessary)


Can restraint be physical?

Yes, restraint can also mean physically holding someone or something back.

What is the primary meaning of restraint?

Restraint primarily refers to self-control or the act of holding back.

Is restraint always voluntary?

Restraint is often voluntary, but it can also be imposed in some contexts, like safety restraints.

How do restrictions affect freedom?

Restrictions can limit freedom by setting boundaries on what people can do.

Is self-restraint a good quality?

Self-restraint is generally seen as a positive quality, indicating discipline and maturity.

Can too much restraint be harmful?

Excessive restraint can be harmful, leading to stress or missed opportunities.

What's the difference between legal restraint and restriction?

Legal restraint involves controlling actions, while legal restriction involves setting limits within the law.

What types of restraint are used in healthcare?

In healthcare, physical and chemical restraints are used to ensure patient safety.

How is restraint viewed in psychology?

In psychology, restraint is often associated with self-discipline and emotional regulation.

Can restrictions be temporary?

Yes, restrictions can be temporary, like during emergencies or specific events.

What is the main purpose of restriction?

The main purpose of restriction is to impose limits or conditions on actions or activities.

Are restrictions necessary in education?

Restrictions in education, like rules and guidelines, are necessary to maintain a conducive learning environment.

How does societal restraint differ from personal restraint?

Societal restraint involves norms and expectations, while personal restraint is an individual's choice.

Are restrictions always legal or official?

Restrictions can be legal, official, or set by individuals or organizations.

What role do restrictions play in environmental protection?

Restrictions play a crucial role in environmental protection by limiting harmful activities.

Are there ethical concerns with restraint in law enforcement?

Yes, the use of restraint in law enforcement raises ethical concerns regarding human rights and dignity.

How do restrictions impact economic activities?

Restrictions can impact economic activities by limiting or directing how businesses operate.

Are there positive aspects of restrictions?

Yes, restrictions can have positive effects, like promoting safety and order.

How do cultural norms influence restraint?

Cultural norms can greatly influence what is considered appropriate restraint in behavior.

Can restrictions foster creativity?

Sometimes, restrictions can foster creativity by challenging individuals to find alternative solutions.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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