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

Third Point has said the company should refrain from appointing a new CEO until after the vote. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Third Point Wants Campbell to Explore a Split," 30 Oct. 2018 And refrain from telling your professor what to do in email. Deb Cohan, Teen Vogue, "College Professor Advice: 16 Things You Should Never Do as a Student," 8 Oct. 2018 For years, when asked about climate change and specific weather events, scientists would refrain from drawing clear connections. Seth Borenstein, Fox News, "Scientists: World's warming; expect more intense hurricanes," 15 Sep. 2018 Reminding students of the norms of civil, respectful behavior, including refraining from blackface, is in line with the actions of colleges historically. Ezra Klein, Vox, "White threat in a browning America," 30 July 2018 After a scolding, an African American child might refrain from speaking in vernacular English at school. Sonia Rao, chicagotribune.com, "'What's up with that white voice?': The tricky art of linguistic code-switching," 14 July 2018 Deputies refrained from using fatal force against Anders because of her unstable mental health, according to Channel 2. Campbell Lutz, ajc, "Cops: Newton County deputy attacked after responding to suicide call," 10 July 2018 Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert refrained from using Comic Sans this time around in his reaction to LeBron James’s departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Si Staff, SI.com, "Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert Addresses LeBron James's Decision to Leave for Lakers," 2 July 2018 Jenner also refrained from sharing her pregnancy journey in real time. Grace Gavilanes, PEOPLE.com, "The Great Social Media Debate: Celebs on Why They Do (or Don't) Share Pics of Their Kids," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Ever since the Trump administration began separating families seeking asylum, the common refrain, on both the right and the left, has been that this does not reflect America or what this country stands for. Renée Graham, BostonGlobe.com, "The nation’s historical amnesia," 21 June 2018 This refrain was repeated, in conventions, in the black press and in pamphlets. Martha S. Jones, Time, "How the 14th Amendment's Promise of Birthright Citizenship Redefined America," 9 July 2018 But the catchy refrain was enshrined in American pop culture. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Quagga mussels, Eurasian water milfoil, spiny water fleas ... and a catchy tune," 20 June 2018 Merritt said, describing a typical customer refrain. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Splunk to Acquire Software Problem-Solver VictorOps for $120 Million," 11 June 2018 Another song, named after the modernist minimalist painter Agnes Martin, has a refrain about total oblivion. John Adamian, courant.com, "Punk Trio Screaming Females To Play Space Ballroom," 31 Mar. 2018 In a statement following the protest over the Walmart Canada Website incident, the refrain was the same. Chris Morris, Fortune, "Walmart Was Once Again Forced to Pull an Offensive Shirt From Its Website," 12 July 2018 Then again, perhaps the refrain is a reminder as much as anything. Chris Ballard, SI.com, "The Reflection, Future and Duality of Post-USMNT Jurgen Klinsmann," 16 May 2018 The call for fiscal conservatism was one of the more common refrains during hearings Tuesday and Wednesday about the city’s initial $163.7-million spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Luke Money, latimes.com, "Costa Mesa’s proposed $163.7-million budget brings calls for caution about spending and fees," 31 May 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

18 Nov 2018

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)

: 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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