refrain

verb
re·frain | \ ri-ˈfrān \
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 \ noun

Synonyms for refrain

Synonyms: Noun

burden, chorus

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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

Throughout the Cold War, Canada had refrained from becoming a full member of the OAS, viewing it as a vehicle of U.S. anti-communist control over Latin America and the Caribbean. Paul Poast, Washington Post, "These surprising countries could emerge as the heroes of NATO — and the liberal world order," 10 July 2018 Acknowledging existing sanctions, Seoul has refrained from offering joint economic projects, which Pyongyang wants the most, and built its engagement around sports, cultural and humanitarian programs. Kim Tong-hyung, Fox News, "Fate of inter-Korean detente hangs on nuclear talks," 5 July 2018 Other Democratic leaders also have refrained from calling for the elimination of ICE, instead focusing on reforming the agency. David Nakamura, chicagotribune.com, "Trump praises ICE as criticism of immigration agency intensifies," 30 June 2018 Canada, Panama and the United States have all sanctioned Maduro, but Venezuela has refrained. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "European Union hits 11 more Venezuelans with sanctions," 25 June 2018 Washington has refrained from promising economic assistance but has suggested this could come from South Korea, China and Japan if Pyongyang agrees to denuclearize. Author: Steve Holland, Jack Kim, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump and North Korea’s Kim arrive in Singapore for historic summit," 10 June 2018 Sanders has refrained from endorsing Levi Sanders in his only son’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for a New Hampshire congressional seat. Matt Viser, BostonGlobe.com, "Bernie Sanders hasn’t endorsed his candidate son," 7 June 2018 Until now, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte had refrained from poaching for members of his old staff at TCU. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte hires former staffer away from TCU," 7 June 2018 Many athletes have refrained from heaping praise on an opponent. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland men’s lacrosse impressed with Duke star Justin Guterding," 27 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This refrain was repeated, in conventions, in the black press and in pamphlets. Martha S. Jones, Time, "How the 14th Amendment's Promise of Birthright Citizenship Redefined America," 9 July 2018 But the catchy refrain was enshrined in American pop culture. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Quagga mussels, Eurasian water milfoil, spiny water fleas ... and a catchy tune," 20 June 2018 Merritt said, describing a typical customer refrain. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Splunk to Acquire Software Problem-Solver VictorOps for $120 Million," 11 June 2018 Another song, named after the modernist minimalist painter Agnes Martin, has a refrain about total oblivion. John Adamian, courant.com, "Punk Trio Screaming Females To Play Space Ballroom," 31 Mar. 2018 In a statement following the protest over the Walmart Canada Website incident, the refrain was the same. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Walmart Was Once Again Forced to Pull an Offensive Shirt From Its Website," 12 July 2018 Then again, perhaps the refrain is a reminder as much as anything. Chris Ballard, SI.com, "The Reflection, Future and Duality of Post-USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann," 16 May 2018 The call for fiscal conservatism was one of the more common refrains during hearings Tuesday and Wednesday about the city’s initial $163.7-million spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Luke Money, latimes.com, "Costa Mesa’s proposed $163.7-million budget brings calls for caution about spending and fees," 31 May 2018 This path to the opposition is a common refrain among his supporters in the impoverished heartland. Leonid Ragozin, Bloomberg.com, "Putin’s Enemies Exploit Growing Rural Anger With the Kremlin," 26 Jan. 2018

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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Statistics for refrain

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for refrain

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

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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

: a comment or statement that is often repeated

refrain

verb
re·frain | \ ri-ˈfrān \
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

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Comments on refrain

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