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

European countries urged Israel last week to refrain from demolition and removal of the 180 or so residents. Majdi Mohammed, Fox News, "Israel removes protest shacks near embattled West Bank site," 13 Sep. 2018 Dimon, Buffett and BlackRock Inc.’s Laurence D. Fink urged companies in 2016 to refrain from short-term earnings forecasts in a letter and report with other financial industry executives. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "Buffett, Dimon make plea to halt quarterly guidance so management can think long-term," 7 June 2018 According to Urgenda, the legal group that organized the plaintiffs, this is the first case to use the law of torts—a legal duty to refrain from causing harm—and human rights law to bring a climate change suit against a country. Zoë Schlanger, Newsweek, "In Unprecedented Case, Dutch Court Sides With Climate Activists Who Sued Their Country for Emissions," 25 June 2015 That said, researchers also suggest that parents refrain from posting on their children's walls. Susan Dominus, Redbook, "Underage on Facebook," 4 Jan. 2012 Israel has refrained from taking sides in the Syrian civil war. Nataliya Vasilyeva, Fox News, "Russia blames Israel for shooting down of plane off Syria," 18 Sep. 2018 Presidents working in the aftermath of the inflation of the 1970s have generally refrained from commenting in public about the Fed’s management of the macroeconomy. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump says he’s “not thrilled” by Federal Reserve interest rate hikes," 19 July 2018 Kim has also refrained from criticizing the joint military exercises that began this week between South Korea and the United States, drills that historically have triggered threats from the North. Jim Michaels, USA TODAY, "Kim Jong Un likes K-pop music, banned in North Korea. That could be a diplomatic breakthrough.," 3 Apr. 2018 China’s largest news outlets have been ordered to refrain from reporting any material beyond official press releases related to trade talks in Beijing with the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg.com, "China Orders Reporting Ban on Mnuchin-Led Trade Talks," 3 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Such was the common refrain this summer, when every girl on Instagram—and often in Soho—was toting a plastic beaded bag by Susan Alexandra or Loeffler Randall. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The Biggest, Most Influential Trends We Saw on Instagram in 2018," 18 Dec. 2018 Which in some ways is the refrain in this part of the world. Pilar Guzmán, Condé Nast Traveler, "South Africa’s Other Big Five," 20 Dec. 2018 Players collapsing during offseason workouts have become a familiar refrain. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair (McDonogh) dies two weeks after collapsing in team workout," 13 June 2018 The work’s spell derives from the tarnished beauty of the house; the plaintive tones of the music; the incessant, unstoppable refrain — a dime-store mantra all the more heartbreaking for its triteness. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Scenes of a privileged paradise that can never be in Ragnar Kjartansson’s ‘Western Culture’," 25 May 2018 The refrain: the seething orb of the sun, reflecting the fever back here on earth, and lending a sense of eternity to Jafa’s theme — the eternity of oppression, and the persistence of love and honor in its face. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "At the ICA, throwing conceptual grenades," 28 June 2018 As recently as the 1980s, the threat of spanking was a familiar refrain in American homes, a way to keep kids in their place. Sarah Szczypinski, chicagotribune.com, "Abusive parenting styles can be inherited. Here are 5 ways to break the cycle.," 7 May 2018 This has been a frequent refrain of Colette Phillips, the founder of Get Konnected!, a Boston networking group and the host of the fifth annual A Taste of Ethnic Boston on July 31. Ann Trieger Kurland, BostonGlobe.com, "Flavors from around the world, all in one place," 9 July 2018 Schuette, sounding a familiar refrain, said Michigan isn't growing quickly enough relative to other states in terms of the number of jobs or the size of its population and paychecks. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "What lies in Michigan's future? Governor candidates debate big issues," 31 May 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

14 Jan 2019

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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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