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

Ohtani, intending to move stateside, had asked NPB teams to refrain from drafting him. Dennis Lin, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Japanese star Shohei Ohtani would be big in San Diego (or anywhere else)," 6 Dec. 2017 But the party will ask candidates to refrain from participating in debates not sanctioned by the DNC. Reid J. Epstein, WSJ, "Democratic Party to Hold First of 12 Televised Debates for 2020 Presidential Primaries in June," 20 Dec. 2018 In early March, news emerged that the Indian Foreign Secretary penned a classified advisory asking senior leaders and government officials to refrain from attending events planned by exiled Tibetans in India. Sugam Pokharel, CNN, "Dalai Lama caught in the middle as India and China reboot ties," 30 Mar. 2018 The coaches were asked to refrain from comment while the reports were examined. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's John Engler blasts ESPN's sexual assault history," 17 Mar. 2018 Also in the email, Faltys asked recipients to refrain from comment during the review. Eric Zarate, star-telegram, "Attorney: Carroll football coach ‘stunned’ by allegations, eager to defend himself," 26 Jan. 2018 Try to refrain from shaving for a couple of days until the irritation calms down. Audrey Noble, Harper's BAZAAR, "How To Get Rid Of Annoying Razor Bumps," 21 Feb. 2019 Thae Yong Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat until 2016, said that pledging to rejoin the treaty would help commit Pyongyang to disarmament, as the agreement obliges signatories to refrain from acquiring nuclear... Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "Former North Korean Diplomat Warns of Deception at Hanoi Summit," 19 Feb. 2019 Fairness does not mean refraining from conclusions. David Roberts, Vox, "My advice for aspiring explainer journalists," 9 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 There’s even a hint of tenderness in the refrains sung by Partynextdoor and Jeremih. Greg Kot, chicagotribune.com, "Kanye West goes inside on 'Ye,' maybe — or he might be trolling us all," 1 June 2018 Republican lawmakers were initially united in their refrain: The first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, deserved to be heard. Juliet Linderman, The Seattle Times, "Hearing on Kavanaugh allegations puts #MeToo to the test," 25 Sep. 2018 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

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

22 Apr 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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not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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