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 refrain (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 The train hall opens at a time when citizens are being asked to refrain from nonessential travel to limit the spread of the coronavirus, and at a moment when commuter train traffic is extremely low. New York Times, "Let There Be Light, and Art, in the Moynihan Train Hall," 30 Dec. 2020 Tokyo has already asked people aged 65 and older and those with underlying health conditions to refrain from making trips to or from the capital using the travel subsidy campaign until Dec. 17. Ayai Tomisawa, Bloomberg.com, "Japan May Halt Travel Subsidy Campaign in More Cities: Reports," 13 Dec. 2020 Authorities have asked anyone with photos or videos from the shooting to refrain from posting them to social media and instead upload them to share with police to aid in the investigation. NBC News, "4 dead, at least 14 injured in suspected Vienna terror attack; shooter dead, others possibly at large," 2 Nov. 2020 The other party is then expected to refrain from glaring or showing other obvious signs of displeasure. Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Tooth-brushing brings parking spot drama," 31 Dec. 2020 Despite a stay-at-home order across much of California and a plea from health officials to refrain from traveling amid the worst surge of the coronavirus to date, many people are still flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport. Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, "LAX begins rapid coronavirus testing for travelers," 31 Dec. 2020 If the manufacturer doesn't list this as a function for the device, refrain from adding anything but water. Erin Parker, Glamour, "11 Best Humidifiers for Bedrooms in 2021," 29 Dec. 2020 But officials continued to urge the public to refrain from large holiday gatherings, wear masks and practice social distancing. Kenneth R. Gosselin, courant.com, "Hartford’s convention center ramps up on the front lines of battle in COVID-19 health crisis," 28 Dec. 2020 Governor Yuriko Koike has called on residents to refrain from unnecessary outings, and has asked bars and restaurants in central districts to close at 10 p.m. Go Onomitsu, Bloomberg.com, "Tokyo Covid Cases Jump to Record With City on Highest Alert," 26 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In order to use the public seating areas, people were required to wear face coverings, practice social distancing and refrain from gathering with those from outside their household. Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times, "Manhattan Beach closes outdoor public seating areas," 3 Jan. 2021 More than 73 million Americans followed Trump with his Pied Piper refrain of denial, denunciation, and destruction. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "What Now?," 19 Nov. 2020 Not hard to see why: The Deniece Williams-echoing ballad reaches near-gospel levels of elevation, feeling more triumphant the further Mariah digs into its soaring refrain. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "The 100 Greatest Mariah Carey Songs: Staff Picks," 5 Oct. 2020 Fans of punk and emo will savor every last gut-ruining refrain though, as the group offers unadulterated catharsis with an eye on salvation and sweaty mosh pits. Andrew Unterberger, Billboard, "The 25 Best Rock Albums of 2020: Staff Picks," 15 Dec. 2020 The allowance includes a series of rules, including the requirement to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing and refrain from gatherings outside the household as well as the prohibition of alcohol use. Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times, "Manhattan Beach repurposes closed outdoor dining areas for public seating," 9 Dec. 2020 Just Tuesday, Fletcher was of three county supervisors who declined to follow the lead of colleague Jim Desmond, who proposed having county staff refrain from enforcing playground closures. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "State reverses playground closures," 9 Dec. 2020 That’s what Michelle Obama said, a refrain echoed all week. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Takeaways from Democratic National Convention: Big tent, good TV, light on policy," 20 Aug. 2020 The decision follows the familiar refrain of heavy revenue hits, budget amendments and financial struggles that many municipalities across the area have been dealing with as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, officials have said. James T. Norman, chicagotribune.com, "Libertyville moves forward with property tax levy that would increase average home’s tax bill by $18 if approved," 13 Nov. 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

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Refrain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/refrain. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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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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