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

The leaders of the protests repeatedly called on protesters to refrain from violence. The Economist, "On Hong Kong, China should retreat to advance," 22 Aug. 2019 Mongkolkit said, adding that he had been told to refrain from criticizing the government in Parliament sessions. Washington Post, "Thai prime minister not quitting for botching oath," 10 Aug. 2019 The primary rule of this groupthink, though, is to refrain from editorializing on your own or anyone else’s ideas. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "The man who gave us brainstorming meetings did his best thinking alone," 6 Aug. 2019 Sullivan’s accusations are at stark odds with a warning Bonnen issued to House members to refrain from campaigning against incumbents of either party or suffer potential consequences. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Hardline GOP activist says Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen wanted him to target certain Republicans," 26 July 2019 Since then, the actors have frequently featured each other in loving tributes on their Instagram accounts but have refrained from fully divulging details about their romance. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse Have Reportedly Broken Up," 22 July 2019 Though the shop initially stopped renting swan boats last week due to low water levels in the lake, employees were notified of the blue-green algae presence and told to refrain from renting boats until the issue is resolved. Marie Fazio, chicagotribune.com, "Park District: Stay out of Humboldt Park lagoon due to toxic blue-green algae," 25 June 2019 Arrington was told to refrain from using computer systems or internet-capable devices, excluding phone calls with his attorney. Lillian Reed, baltimoresun.com, "A Baltimore rapper billed himself as self-made music sensation. Feds say Chad Focus was built on fraud.," 10 June 2019 The singer, until now, has remained mostly tight-lipped about the relationship and has refrained from appearing on red carpets or at public events with him. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Rihanna Opens Up About Her Relationship: 'It Matters To Me'," 10 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

To plead the fifth so often that the pleading itself came to double as a miasmic refrain. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "‘Epstein Is Gone, but Justice Must Still Be Served’," 10 Aug. 2019 The relatively limited gaming selection at big box stores, compared to GameStop, was a common refrain. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Why the gaming world will be worse once GameStop is gone," 2 Aug. 2019 That’s a familiar refrain for struggling retailers these days. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Retailer Charming Charlie Files Chapter 11, Closing All Stores," 11 July 2019 Despite its many virtues, the most common refrain by skeptics was that national conservatism ignores President Trump’s many character flaws and clamors for revolution without any plan for what comes next. John Burtka Iv, Twin Cities, "John Burtka: Under Trump, a very different agenda for conservatives emerges," 25 July 2019 The desire for the conversation to deepen was a common refrain among attendees; several people remarked that candidates rarely got specific and important topics got too little time. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Young San Diegans wanted to hear more ideas at debate watch party," 28 June 2019 Once again, a shadow of a signal that scientists hoped would amplify into conclusive evidence of dark matter has instead flatlined, repeating a maddening refrain in the search for the invisible, omnipresent particles. Quanta Magazine, "Dwarf Galaxies Dim Hopes of Dark Matter," 25 Oct. 2014 The refrain from all of the American players after the match was 'well, goal difference, every one counts'. SI.com, "USA 13-0 Thailand: USWNT's Champagne Football Shatters World Cup Records in Reims," 11 June 2019 All of the candidates near the bottom of the pack offer the same refrain when asked about polls: it’s way too early for these surveys to matter. oregonlive.com, "Troubling portents for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders as 2020 Democratic presidential race heats up, new polls arrive," 10 June 2019

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 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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