refrain

verb
re·​frain | \ ri-ˈfrān \
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 \ 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

Usually, a bride refrains from revealing her dress to the groom until the day of their wedding. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'Blue Bloods' Just Leaked the First Photos of Eddie's Wedding Dress," 25 Jan. 2019 Until something has been rigorously studied, trusted experts refrain from developing any clinical guidelines about its use for health. Zahra Barnes, SELF, "10 Apple Cider Vinegar Facts to Know Before You Drink It," 1 Jan. 2019 Accordingly, there are a number of articles calling for Jewish women—or anyone who does not support anti-semitism—to refrain from marching this year. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "Should You Attend the Women's March?," 16 Jan. 2019 Last spring an advisory pamphlet told Mount Holyoke professors to refrain from referring to their students as women. Kassy Dillon, WSJ, "My Alma Stops Identifying as a Mater," 26 Dec. 2018 The National Resource Defense Council reports that one of the easiest ways to save water and energy is by opting for a dishwasher and refraining from pre-rinsing dishes. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "The Number One Reason Not To Pre-Rinse Your Dirty Dishes," 18 Dec. 2018 The Iha-ri dismantlement comes after Kim agreed to refrain from testing missiles while engaging in dialogue with South Korea in March. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "North Korea razes missile test site, monitoring group 38 North says," 6 June 2018 European countries urged Israel last week to refrain from demolition and removal of the 180 or so residents. Majdi Mohammed, Fox News, "Israel removes protest shacks near embattled West Bank site," 13 Sep. 2018 Dimon, Buffett and BlackRock Inc.’s Laurence D. Fink urged companies in 2016 to refrain from short-term earnings forecasts in a letter and report with other financial industry executives. Bloomberg, latimes.com, "Buffett, Dimon make plea to halt quarterly guidance so management can think long-term," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The work’s spell derives from the tarnished beauty of the house; the plaintive tones of the music; the incessant, unstoppable refrain — a dime-store mantra all the more heartbreaking for its triteness. Charles Desmarais, San Francisco Chronicle, "Scenes of a privileged paradise that can never be in Ragnar Kjartansson’s ‘Western Culture’," 25 May 2018 The refrain: the seething orb of the sun, reflecting the fever back here on earth, and lending a sense of eternity to Jafa’s theme — the eternity of oppression, and the persistence of love and honor in its face. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "At the ICA, throwing conceptual grenades," 28 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

11 Feb 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 \
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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