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Restrict vs. Limited: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 12, 2023
Restrict means to confine or keep within limits, while limited denotes having a boundary or being finite in quantity or extent.

Key Differences

Both "restrict" and "limited" pertain to the idea of confinement, but they are used differently in language and context. To restrict is an active verb, indicating the action of setting boundaries or preventing something from moving beyond those boundaries. It implies an intervention or a specific decision made to set these confines. In contrast, "limited" is an adjective that describes the nature or state of something as having clear bounds or not being infinite.
Consider a scenario where a parent might restrict the amount of time their child spends watching television. The action of setting this boundary is "to restrict." However, the time the child can watch TV is "limited" to, say, two hours. The parent has restricted the viewing time, making it limited.
Moreover, while "restrict" often implies an imposed boundary, "limited" can refer to inherent qualities. For example, a book might be restricted to certain stores due to an exclusive deal, but its first print is limited to 5,000 copies because of budget constraints.
It's also worth noting that while we often think of both terms in negative contexts, they don't necessarily have to be. For instance, a restricted area in a nature reserve might be so to protect wildlife. Similarly, a limited edition of a product might be seen as more valuable due to its rarity.

Comparison Chart

Grammar Type



Action of setting boundaries
State of having bounds

Typical Usage

Imposed boundary or confinement
Inherent or specified boundary or confinement

Contextual Example

Restrict access to a room
Limited seating availability

Associated Sentiment

Often neutral or negative
Can be neutral, negative, or positive

Restrict and Limited Definitions


To withhold or hold back.
The government might restrict certain information.


Confined within a range.
The offer is available for a limited time.


To place under certain conditions or requirements.
The club restricts membership to those above 21.


Not vast or extensive.
Her knowledge on the subject is quite limited.


To confine within bounds.
We need to restrict the use of this entrance.


Confined or restricted within certain limits
Has only limited experience.


To limit access or usage.
Please restrict your comments to the topic at hand.


Not attaining the highest goals or achievement
A limited success.


To set definite limits upon.
Parents often restrict screen time for their kids.


Having only mediocre talent or range of ability
A popular but limited actor.


To keep or confine within physical limits
The inmates are restricted to their cells for 23 hours each day. Food consumption is restricted to the cafeteria.


Having governmental or ruling powers restricted by enforceable limitations, as a constitution or a legislative body
Limited monarchy.


To prevent or prohibit beyond a certain limit or by restriction
The law restricts the use of pesticides. The program restricts unauthorized users from accessing the data.


Abbr. Ltd. Of or relating to a limited company.


To restrain within boundaries; to limit; to confine
After suffering diahrroea, the patient was restricted to a diet of rice, cold meat, and yoghurt.


Of, relating to, or being transportation facilities, such as trains or buses, that make few stops and carry relatively few passengers.


To consider (a function) as defined on a subset of its original domain.
If we restrict sine to \left[-\frac\pi2,\frac\pi2\right], we can define its inverse.


A limited train or bus.


(obsolete) Restricted.


Simple past tense and past participle of limit




With certain (often specified) limits placed upon it.


To restrain within bounds; to limit; to confine; as, to restrict worlds to a particular meaning; to restrict a patient to a certain diet.


Restricted, small, few, not plentiful.
There are limited places available. Enrol now or you will miss out.
I have a limited understanding of quantum physics.


Place restrictions on;
Curtail drinking in school


(rail) An express train that only halts at a limited number of stops.


Place under restrictions; limit access to;
This substance is controlled


Confined within limits; narrow; circumscribed; restricted; as, our views of nature are very limited.


Place limits on (extent or access);
Restrict the use of this parking lot
Limit the time you can spend with your friends


Small in range or scope;
Limited war
A limited success
A limited circle of friends


Make more specific;
Qualify these remarks


Subject to limits or subjected to limits


Including only a part




Not excessive


Having a specific function or scope;
A special (or specific) role in the mission


Not unlimited;
A limited list of choices


Having definite boundaries or limits.
The room has limited space.


Not general or universal.
The software is for limited use.


Restricted in quantity.
They have a limited supply of the product.


How is "limited" commonly used?

"Limited" often describes quantity, scope, or extent, like "limited resources."

Can a person be restricted?

Yes, people can be restricted in actions or movements, like travel restrictions.

Can "limited" be seen as a positive term?

Yes, "limited" can be positive, as in "limited edition," implying rarity or exclusivity.

Can "limit" be used as a verb like "restrict"?

Yes, "to limit" is to set a boundary or maximum, similar to "restrict."

Why would someone restrict access?

For reasons like safety, privacy, or exclusive rights.

What might be a limited resource?

Water in a drought or tickets to a popular event.

Can a thing be described as restricted?

Yes, like restricted access to a building or restricted information.

How does "limited" relate to quantity?

"Limited" can denote a finite amount or quantity, such as "limited tickets available."

Are all limited things restricted?

No, something can be inherently limited without being actively restricted.

Is "restrict" always a negative term?

No, "restrict" can be neutral, like restricting access for safety reasons.

Can "restrict" be used as an adjective?

Typically, no. Its adjective form is "restricted."

Are the terms interchangeable?

Not always. While related, they have distinct nuances and are grammatically different.

Is "unlimited" the opposite of "limited"?

Yes, "unlimited" means not having any boundaries or restrictions.

Can you restrict yourself?

Yes, one can self-restrict, like restricting one's diet or spending.

Can a space be both restricted and limited?

Yes, like a VIP area that's small (limited space) and has controlled access (restricted).

What's a synonym for "restrict"?

"Constrain" or "confine" can be synonyms for "restrict."

Is a "restricted area" the same as a "limited area"?

Not exactly. "Restricted" often implies prohibited or controlled access, while "limited" can refer to size or scope.

Is "limitation" related to "limited"?

Yes, a "limitation" is a restriction or bound, and something with limitations is "limited."

Can "restrict" apply to feelings or abstract concepts?

Yes, like restricting one's emotions or restricting a thought process.

Is "bounded" a synonym for "limited"?

In some contexts, yes. "Bounded" can refer to having boundaries, much like "limited."
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
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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