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

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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 Parents were asked to refrain from getting out of their cars to take photos of their children with friends. Teri Webster, Dallas News, "Richardson ISD asks parents to model social distancing as elementary students return to classrooms," 8 Sep. 2020 Glenn Lungarini, executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, similarly asked those angry about the cancellation of fall football to refrain from threats. Alex Putterman, courant.com, "DPH commissioner, other officials have received threats after cancellation of high school football season, House speaker says," 5 Sep. 2020 Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the virus may spread when infectious droplets enter any mucous membrane, a reason why experts have asked Americans to refrain from touching their face as much as possible. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, "Should I Wear a Face Shield? Experts Explain Why Shields Boost COVID-19 Safety," 31 July 2020 Participants waved Serbian flags and chanted derogatory slogans against Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic, despite appeals by opposition party leaders to refrain from provocations. Predrag Milic, Star Tribune, "Government agreed, Montenegro to keep pro-Western course.," 9 Sep. 2020 Those interested in the event are strongly encouraged to refrain from attending and instead watch the recording at a later time. Megan Woodward, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Hampstead American Legion to host luminary display to honor lives lost in 9/11; events planned for Mount Airy, Westminster," 9 Sep. 2020 Even the Catholic Diocese of Covington is discouraging families of its students to refrain from traveling, in a letter to parents. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, "COVID 19: Colleges are open and cases are up in SW Ohio. Could they fuel Labor Day surge?," 3 Sep. 2020 While former presidents generally refrain from criticizing their successors, Obama didn't hold back. Nina Bahadur, Glamour, "Barack Obama Fiercely Criticized Trump in an Unprecedented DNC Speech," 20 Aug. 2020 The program allows for loans to be forgiven if businesses refrain from layoffs or pay-cuts for employees. Alex Putterman, courant.com, "Lamont hints about next phase of reopening as restaurants worry about coming cold weather and threat of COVID-19," 12 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The commenters also echoed a similar refrain heard throughout the summer — to defund the Salt Lake City Police Department and redirect that money to make housing and health care more affordable. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Salt Lake City residents share objections over homeless encampment cleanup," 16 Sep. 2020 Acha sings, before other members of Green Kids take up the refrain. Washington Post, "They rap about growing up in Japan. But they are labeled outsiders because their families left generations ago.," 9 Sep. 2020 Students at the Laredo campus are required to take back-to-school training and sign a pledge to wear masks, keep their social distance and refrain from activities that put them at risk of exposure. Krista Torralva, ExpressNews.com, "In South Texas, more A&M classrooms opening where coronavirus is hottest," 21 Aug. 2020 Trump's reelection campaign has uttered a similar refrain, highlighting what officials say is Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's failure to account for China's aggression against American farmers and workers. Katherine Doyle, Washington Examiner, "Navarro: Democrats and China are in 'common cause' to defeat Trump," 19 Aug. 2020 June 27, 2018: With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, Schumer recalled McConnell's 2016 refrain. Katie Wadington, USA TODAY, "Then and now: What McConnell and others said about Merrick Garland in 2016 vs. after Ginsburg's death," 16 Feb. 2016 The reasoning has become a familiar refrain since DeWine took office in 2019. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Cleveland killer, other death row inmates’ executions delayed as Ohio struggles to find new lethal-injection drugs," 5 Sep. 2020 First performed in June 1902, the song version—especially the hymn-like refrain—was increasingly revered as a second national anthem. Barrymore Laurence Scherer, WSJ, "A Joyful Song of Proud Tradition," 4 Sep. 2020 Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a close Trump confidant, slammed Democrats with a familiar refrain throughout the convention that focused on violence in cities where there have been anti-police brutality protests. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump rips Joe Biden as a threat to the American Dream and other takeaways from the RNC's final night," 28 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for refrain

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for refrain

Last Updated

26 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Refrain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/refrain. Accessed 28 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for refrain

refrain

verb
How to pronounce refrain (audio)

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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