Main definitions of refrain in English

: refrain1refrain2

refrain1

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Stop oneself from doing something.

    ‘she refrained from comment’
    • ‘Of them all, Sainte-Beuve alone refrained from hurting me with foolish words.’
    • ‘Great people, companies and institutions didn't get where they are by selling themselves short or refraining from trying something different.’
    • ‘I immediately warmed to him, and told him my tale of woe, refraining from going into too much detail and being careful not to bring Captain Haddock into it.’
    • ‘Which is why, Matthew, as you explained, the U.S. is refraining from entering any of those sites during this battle.’
    • ‘Already jittery on energy drink and party pills, they are sensibly refraining from drinking alcohol to ensure that they will be vertical for the big final act.’
    • ‘The serious complication of pneumothorax can be avoided by refraining from aiming the needle at an intercostal space.’
    • ‘The public doesn't expect praise for refraining from pogroms, but nor does it expect ceaseless injunctions to abstain from them.’
    • ‘I stood motionless next to the roll of bread, refraining from moving too soon, for fear of being discovered.’
    • ‘Since smokers appear to be unable to act in a socially responsible way by voluntarily refraining from smoking in public, it seems there must be a law.’
    • ‘Among the six steps the media industry groups said the government could take was refraining from any action that may threaten freedom of expression or freedom of the press.’
    • ‘To avoid their after taste during dessert, we might have refrained from eating them had we noticed them sooner.’
    • ‘So refraining from torture may not always make sense on a pragmatic basis.’
    • ‘It seems they are refraining from labeling the people they're looking at as suspects.’
    • ‘Yet, it appears that it is meticulously refraining from any extreme actions that could trigger a military showdown with the United States.’
    • ‘Some banks are also refraining from extending loans for fear that they could harm their capital adequacy ratios.’
    • ‘By refraining from criticizing other Democrats he appears more statesmanlike.’
    • ‘One other way that the cost of living could be kept down is by Government refraining from increasing taxes of any kind.’
    • ‘Certainly, refraining from food and drink from dawn to dusk is not easy.’
    • ‘I think refraining from showing the video is the right thing to do.’
    • ‘I explained that it was for my swollen hand, politely refraining from mentioning that it was their fellow nurses who had necessitated the elusive pillow.’
    abstain, desist, hold back, stop oneself, withhold
    forbear, forgo, do without, dispense with, resist the temptation to, avoid, steer clear of, give a wide berth to, have nothing to do with, fight shy of, eschew, shun, renounce, forswear, abjure, leave alone, not touch, reject
    stop, cease, finish, discontinue, give up, break off, drop
    quit, leave off, kick, swear off
    jack in
    forsake
    View synonyms

Origin

Middle English (in the sense ‘restrain a thought or feeling’): from Old French refrener, from Latin refrenare, from re- (expressing intensive force) + frenum bridle.

Pronunciation:

refrain

/rɪˈfreɪn/

Main definitions of refrain in English

: refrain1refrain2

refrain2

noun

  • 1A repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse.

    • ‘Think of all the song lines, or at least refrains, we've all memorized.’
    • ‘She sang a refrain; he sampled it electronically and ' sang ' it back using the keyboard.’
    • ‘The quatrain is followed by a couplet forming a refrain, also with four stresses.’
    • ‘In these ten short verses, the refrain, ‘Do not fear,’ occurs three times.’
    • ‘For example, round is another word for a roundelay, which is a short simple song with a refrain.’
    • ‘Most people will be familiar with the refrain of the song, ‘All I wanna do is have some fun.’’
    • ‘And it gave Ice Cube a haunting refrain in one of his angriest and best tracks.’
    • ‘The women sang the words, while the men sang the refrain.’
    • ‘The refrain in this song is the line ‘I heard the voice of a porkchop say come unto me and rest.’’
    • ‘At one point he then took out the aforementioned trumpet and played it with Satchmo-like raunch, singing the refrain in between the lines of melody.’
    • ‘The first song has the refrain, ‘Dark is life, is death,’ and ends with the macabre image of an ape howling in a graveyard.’
    • ‘Or will the parting strains of Robbie Burns' haunting refrain convince her to come back again soon?’
    • ‘Mary J Blige has even changed the refrain of the song, and sings, ‘No more war.’’
    • ‘Even Isaiah turns preacher in our text with a sermonic refrain repeated in verses 21 and 28.’
    • ‘Songs and poems must be at least two pages long, not including repeating stanzas or refrains.’
    • ‘As the refrain of the country song goes, ‘O Please, Dear God, Not Another One.’’
    • ‘There's a 1960s poem with the constant refrain of ' Tell me lies about Vietnam '.’
    • ‘The refrain goes, " living in the wild wild west".’
    • ‘And off she went, singing a sad, sad refrain.’
    • ‘These all seem to derive from the Folio text, but some may supplement it by accurately recording where breaks came between verses and refrains.’
    1. 1.1The musical accompaniment for a refrain.
      ‘he would play the refrain’
      • ‘The plucked guitar finally overtakes the melodic refrain near the end of the piece, eventually wiping the beginning from memory.’
      • ‘Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it is boring; I must, however, warn you that the melodic refrain is so soothing that, at times, you may find yourself being lulled to sleep.’
      • ‘I have certain musical refrains that I am purposefully repeating - in a different key, but still repeating.’
      • ‘Musical refrains differ by virtue of the score or the performer.’
      • ‘The fast sections are extremely delightful with slow sections having wonderful melodies and tender refrains.’
      • ‘Above all, it faced the progressive movement of the civilisation of the book, enveloping discordance like the resolving refrain of a Beethoven sonata.’
      • ‘It's got a solid bass riff, punchy drums and ear-catching sampled refrains, but could use either a melody or some rapping out front to give it focus.’
      • ‘To show this really was meant as a band effort, we then get a jaunt through Honest Plain John's ‘Psycho Girl’ with it's jangly guitar refrain and hypnotic chorus.’
      • ‘The melodies meander but return to touchstone refrains, and the ever-present percussion drive them onward.’
      • ‘The guitars grow increasingly reckless and discordant to match the rising edge in Lee Ranaldo's voice before bursting into an anthemic refrain bordering on anarchy.’
      • ‘Here the beat is constantly fluttered and redrawn, but somehow held together by the nearly anthemic melodic refrain.’
      • ‘Jeremy Soule provides the music with an occasional refrain from John Williams' classic soundtrack.’
      • ‘The elegance, the sorrow, the cadences of the language there reminds one of Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 with its haunting refrains.’
      • ‘The end result being that this carefully meditated montage of menacing reverb, clanking percussion and tender piano refrains establishes clear themes of late night melancholic reflection.’
      • ‘Song for the Others and Borderline positively sparkle with piano refrains from the top drawer.’
      • ‘Then came the haunting solo violin refrain and all the children stopped sawing away - except one.’
      • ‘Look no further than the heartbreaking lyrics and painfully sad mourning orchestral refrains of ‘I Left You’.’
      • ‘With no distractions other than a few lilting refrains from the skilled guitar of Andrew Pendlebury, the audience needs chemistry between the performers to hold their attention.’
      • ‘As she began to play the refrain, a voice began to caress her melody.’
      • ‘The arrangements are intelligent without being fussy: tuneful refrains for cello and woodwind, beguiling motifs for piano and vibes, emotional guitar and restrained drums.’
    2. 1.2A comment or complaint that is often repeated.
      ‘‘Poor Tom’ had become the constant refrain of his friends’
      • ‘A constant refrain from Australian political parties not only in the recent election campaign but for generations has been that Australia cannot afford more money for national defence.’
      • ‘This is a constant refrain in the liberal press.’
      • ‘A constant refrain in the media, for example, is that we in the West are the tireless champions of the powerless and oppressed, unbiased by self-interest.’
      • ‘A constant refrain is that Scotland should follow the lead set by Norway, a small, independent country made rich by direct control of its North Sea oil.’
      • ‘In later years these words would become a familiar refrain.’
      • ‘Although this has been a constant refrain in the past few years, little has been done to achieve this goal.’
      • ‘Now, that's becoming almost a familiar refrain when we're talking about the Defence Department.’
      • ‘We have heard the usual refrain about big companies swallowing up small ones and limiting diversity.’
      • ‘One of the constant refrains of successive Governments in the two decades that I have been in the House has been the issue of how Governments facilitate industry development, both at the domestic and at the international level.’
      • ‘Loyalists are likely to dismiss the criticisms as a familiar refrain from opponents who have never come to terms with his leadership.’
      • ‘For the moment, he is all but echoing the same refrain.’
      • ‘Since the referendum all leaders of the European Union's mainstream parties have repeated the same refrain.’
      • ‘"We can't just let him starve to death, " is a common refrain heard from family members.’
      • ‘Everywhere one heard the common refrain: at last we have something to celebrate.’
      • ‘Integration, integration, integration, is her constant refrain.’
      • ‘The constant refrain of both the corporations and their flunkeys in the union bureaucracy and the media is that there is no alternative but to comply with the agenda set by contemporary economic realities.’
      • ‘Amongst the journalists who responded to my queries, there was a constant refrain: ‘what can I possibly do?’’
      • ‘Dean's emphasis on Kennedy's prudence during the Cuban missile crisis was a constant refrain of leading Democrats in late 2002.’
      • ‘This has been a constant refrain from the Bush administration.’
      • ‘‘You in the media think you can tell us what we're annoyed about’ was the constant refrain.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French, from refraindre break, based on Latin refringere break up (because the refrain ‘broke’ the sequence).

Pronunciation:

refrain

/rɪˈfreɪn/