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 refrainment (audio) \ 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

Mentor-On-The-Lake Police Chief John Gielink asked residents to refrain from calling 911 during earthquakes unless someone has a medical emergency or there’s some sort of damage from the quake. Adam Ferrise, cleveland.com, "‘Man this whole God-blessed house shook’: Hundreds of calls flood 911 call centers after Eastlake earthquake," 10 June 2019 Such criticism marked the end of a 25-year period in which U.S. presidents refrained from publicly commenting on monetary policy. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "At Fed’s Jackson Hole Retreat, Central Bankers Eye New Economic Risks," 26 Aug. 2018 Banks saw weakness in mortgage lending, where rate increases are felt most acutely as borrowers refrain from refinancing their home loans when interest costs rise. Emily Glazer, WSJ, "Big Banks Find Sweet Spot in Higher Rates," 15 Jan. 2019 However, Israel has until now generally refrained from commenting about the strikes for fear of triggering a reaction and being drawn into the deadly fighting in neighboring Syria’s civil war. Aron Heller, The Seattle Times, "Israel confirms Syria strike, ends mission on Lebanon border," 13 Jan. 2019 But Pelosi’s long tenure has also led some younger candidates in largely Democratic districts, seeing Pelosi as emblematic of the party’s old guard, to refrain from endorsing her. Matthew Green, Vox, "What Pelosi’s defenders miss," 29 Oct. 2018 Obama reportedly only laughed and shook her head, keeping things classy and refraining from elaborating further on her comments. Glamour, "Michelle Obama Just Made a Rare Comment About Donald Trump," 16 Apr. 2019 Cries of corporate welfare and vulture capitalism became refrains among progressive Democrats, including the state’s newest political star, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as from within the newly Democratic state senate. Katie Honan, WSJ, "Amazon’s New York Project Foundered on Labor Organizing, Opposition to Subsidies," 16 Feb. 2019 A month after the Causeway crash, a St. Tammany judge ordered that Matte be confined to her parents' home from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, refrain from driving and wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet while the North Shore case is pending. Robert Rhoden, NOLA.com, "1 year after fatal Causeway crash, accused DWI motorist awaits trial as victim's widow files suit," 23 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The common refrain among digitally-native brands is that brick-and-mortar stores are relic. Emily Farra, Vogue, "La Ligne’s First Store Is Opening Today on Madison Avenue," 5 May 2019 The sophisticated and the relaxed' is a refrain that defines much of South Africa’s new cultural scene in these emerging neighborhoods. Pilar Guzmán, Condé Nast Traveler, "South Africa’s Other Big Five," 20 Dec. 2018 In the aftermath of these revelations, a common refrain heard was that something needed to be done about the power of these shoe companies over supposedly amateur athletes. Will Leitch, WSJ, "‘Kicks’ Review: It’s Gotta Be the Shoes," 21 June 2018 Sometimes the greatest the way to say something is to say nothing at all, goes the refrain from the duet, written and recorded with crossover country star Chris Stapleton. Drew Lazor, Philly.com, "Justin Timberlake plays the hits (and 'The Fresh Prince' theme) at the Wells Fargo Center," 3 June 2018 The downward spiral of relations between Europe, and now Canada, with the United States over a range of issues has become an ongoing refrain, with only Trump appearing unperturbed by it. Washington Post, "After ‘diplomatic equivalent of a multiple-car pileup,’ U.S. allies brace for NATO summit," 28 June 2018 Her life was its own improvisation, with octave leaps and joyous refrains. Bryan Marquard, BostonGlobe.com, "Rebecca Parris, 66, jazz singer of uncommon range and emotional depth," 19 June 2018 That's the refrain from Sean Hannity, after lawyers for President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, revealed in court on Monday that the Fox News host is one of only three clients that Cohen represented this year and last. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "The gaping hole in Sean Hannity’s story about being Michael Cohen’s client," 16 Apr. 2018 This has been an increasingly common refrain on the political right. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Republicans are mad at Google for search bias—will they do anything about it?," 12 Dec. 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

17 Jun 2019

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)

formal : 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 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

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Comments on refrain

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