refrain

verb
re·​frain | \ ri-ˈfrān How to pronounce refrain (audio) \
refrained; refraining; refrains

Definition of refrain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to keep oneself from doing, feeling, or indulging in something and especially from following a passing impulse refrained from having dessert

refrain

noun

Definition of refrain (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a regularly recurring phrase or verse especially at the end of each stanza or division of a poem or song : chorus also : the musical setting of a refrain
2 : a comment or statement that is often repeated

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Other Words from refrain

Verb

refrainment \ ri-​ˈfrān-​mənt How to pronounce refrain (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for refrain

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of refrain in a Sentence

Verb I was going to make a joke but I refrained. Noun A common refrain among teachers these days is that the schools need more funding. I didn't know the verses of the song, so I only sang on the refrain.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Unlike many traditional romantic comedies, both refrain from fantasy, choosing instead to remain grounded in the real world. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 29 Aug. 2021 The illness appears to be affecting specific areas, the DNR announced, and residents in Central Indiana should still refrain from feeding birds. London Gibson, The Indianapolis Star, 9 Aug. 2021 Police are asking the public to avoid the area and refrain from posting pictures or videos of the scene. Anchorage Daily News, 17 June 2021 When the committee reconvened, Wilkin encouraged everyone to be civil and refrain from name-calling or accusations. Jessie Balmert, The Enquirer, 17 June 2021 Those recommendations included requiring ransom payments to be reported to authorities and creating a fund to support victims who refrain from paying ransoms. Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, 31 May 2021 As part of the deal, the Taliban agrees to cut ties with Al Qaeda and refrain from attacking U.S. forces. Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2021 During this time, Jewish people attend synagogue services and refrain from working. CNN, 26 Aug. 2021 But the notion that candidates might refrain from throwing sharp elbows at each other was wishful thinking. San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Airline executives sounded a similar refrain when the idea of mandatory COVID-19 testing for flights within the United States was raised by a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in late January. Dawn Gilbertson, USA TODAY, 13 Sep. 2021 That is the solemn refrain repeated often after the devastation of 9/11. Los Angeles Times, 10 Sep. 2021 The punch line, of course, refers to the refrain that became ubiquitous in the United States following the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and shattered the country. Sascha Cohen, The Atlantic, 10 Sep. 2021 Sanders had never fallen back on that tired superstar refrain. Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press, 8 Aug. 2021 While the refrain may sound defeatist, Yola uses it as a kick-in-the-ass protest against complacency — a reminder that significant change, whether personal or political, doesn't come without sustained vigilance and considerable sweat. Jim Farber, EW.com, 14 July 2021 Her students repeated the word in an unruly refrain. Annie Waldman, ProPublica, 3 July 2021 Other times, fans simply sing the refrain over and over, like a mantra. Washington Post, 1 July 2021 That refrain has been argued for years, but this time college athletes like Rakestraw are about to have their chance. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, 30 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'refrain.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of refrain

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for refrain

Verb

Middle English refreynen, from Anglo-French refreiner, refreindre, from Latin refrenare, from re- + frenum bridle — more at frenum

Noun

Middle English refreyn, from Middle French refrain, alteration of Old French refrait melody, response, from past participle of refraindre to break up, moderate, from Vulgar Latin *refrangere, alteration of Latin refringere — more at refract

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Time Traveler for refrain

Time Traveler

The first known use of refrain was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near refrain

refractory ware

refrain

refraination

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Statistics for refrain

Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refrain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/refrain. Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for refrain

refrain

verb

English Language Learners Definition of refrain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to stop yourself from doing something that you want to do

refrain

noun

English Language Learners Definition of refrain (Entry 2 of 2)

: a phrase or verse that is repeated regularly in a poem or song : chorus
: a comment or statement that is often repeated

refrain

verb
re·​frain | \ ri-ˈfrān How to pronounce refrain (audio) \
refrained; refraining

Kids Definition of refrain

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to keep from giving in to a desire or impulse I wanted to laugh but refrained.

refrain

noun

Kids Definition of refrain (Entry 2 of 2)

: a phrase or verse repeated regularly in a poem or song

More from Merriam-Webster on refrain

Nglish: Translation of refrain for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of refrain for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about refrain

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