Main definitions of refrain in English

: refrain1refrain2

refrain1

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Stop oneself from doing something.

    ‘she refrained from comment’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The public doesn't expect praise for refraining from pogroms, but nor does it expect ceaseless injunctions to abstain from them.’
    • ‘By refraining from criticizing other Democrats he appears more statesmanlike.’
    • ‘So refraining from torture may not always make sense on a pragmatic basis.’
    • ‘Which is why, Matthew, as you explained, the U.S. is refraining from entering any of those sites during this battle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It seems they are refraining from labeling the people they're looking at as suspects.’
    • ‘One other way that the cost of living could be kept down is by Government refraining from increasing taxes of any kind.’
    • ‘I stood motionless next to the roll of bread, refraining from moving too soon, for fear of being discovered.’
    • ‘To avoid their after taste during dessert, we might have refrained from eating them had we noticed them sooner.’
    • ‘Yet, it appears that it is meticulously refraining from any extreme actions that could trigger a military showdown with the United States.’
    • ‘I think refraining from showing the video is the right thing to do.’
    • ‘Great people, companies and institutions didn't get where they are by selling themselves short or refraining from trying something different.’
    • ‘Certainly, refraining from food and drink from dawn to dusk is not easy.’
    • ‘Some banks are also refraining from extending loans for fear that they could harm their capital adequacy ratios.’
    • ‘Of them all, Sainte-Beuve alone refrained from hurting me with foolish words.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The serious complication of pneumothorax can be avoided by refraining from aiming the needle at an intercostal space.’
    abstain, desist, hold back, stop oneself, withhold
    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.

    • ‘The refrain in this song is the line ‘I heard the voice of a porkchop say come unto me and rest.’’
    • ‘In these ten short verses, the refrain, ‘Do not fear,’ occurs three times.’
    • ‘And it gave Ice Cube a haunting refrain in one of his angriest and best tracks.’
    • ‘The first song has the refrain, ‘Dark is life, is death,’ and ends with the macabre image of an ape howling in a graveyard.’
    • ‘Songs and poems must be at least two pages long, not including repeating stanzas or refrains.’
    • ‘There's a 1960s poem with the constant refrain of ' Tell me lies about Vietnam '.’
    • ‘And off she went, singing a sad, sad refrain.’
    • ‘The refrain goes, " living in the wild wild west".’
    • ‘She sang a refrain; he sampled it electronically and ' sang ' it back using the keyboard.’
    • ‘Mary J Blige has even changed the refrain of the song, and sings, ‘No more war.’’
    • ‘Or will the parting strains of Robbie Burns' haunting refrain convince her to come back again soon?’
    • ‘These all seem to derive from the Folio text, but some may supplement it by accurately recording where breaks came between verses and refrains.’
    • ‘As the refrain of the country song goes, ‘O Please, Dear God, Not Another One.’’
    • ‘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 quatrain is followed by a couplet forming a refrain, also with four stresses.’
    • ‘The women sang the words, while the men sang the refrain.’
    • ‘For example, round is another word for a roundelay, which is a short simple song with a refrain.’
    • ‘Even Isaiah turns preacher in our text with a sermonic refrain repeated in verses 21 and 28.’
    • ‘Most people will be familiar with the refrain of the song, ‘All I wanna do is have some fun.’’
    • ‘Think of all the song lines, or at least refrains, we've all memorized.’
    1. 1.1 The musical accompaniment for a refrain.
      ‘he would play the refrain’
      • ‘Musical refrains differ by virtue of the score or the performer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have certain musical refrains that I am purposefully repeating - in a different key, but still repeating.’
      • ‘Then came the haunting solo violin refrain and all the children stopped sawing away - except one.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Here the beat is constantly fluttered and redrawn, but somehow held together by the nearly anthemic melodic refrain.’
      • ‘The melodies meander but return to touchstone refrains, and the ever-present percussion drive them onward.’
      • ‘The arrangements are intelligent without being fussy: tuneful refrains for cello and woodwind, beguiling motifs for piano and vibes, emotional guitar and restrained drums.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jeremy Soule provides the music with an occasional refrain from John Williams' classic soundtrack.’
      • ‘As she began to play the refrain, a voice began to caress her melody.’
      • ‘Look no further than the heartbreaking lyrics and painfully sad mourning orchestral refrains of ‘I Left You’.’
      • ‘The fast sections are extremely delightful with slow sections having wonderful melodies and tender refrains.’
      • ‘The elegance, the sorrow, the cadences of the language there reminds one of Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 3 with its haunting refrains.’
      • ‘Above all, it faced the progressive movement of the civilisation of the book, enveloping discordance like the resolving refrain of a Beethoven sonata.’
      • ‘Song for the Others and Borderline positively sparkle with piano refrains from the top drawer.’
      • ‘The plucked guitar finally overtakes the melodic refrain near the end of the piece, eventually wiping the beginning from memory.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2 A comment or complaint that is often repeated.
      ‘‘Poor Tom’ had become the constant refrain of his friends’
      • ‘"We can't just let him starve to death, " is a common refrain heard from family members.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Although this has been a constant refrain in the past few years, little has been done to achieve this goal.’
      • ‘Everywhere one heard the common refrain: at last we have something to celebrate.’
      • ‘In later years these words would become a familiar refrain.’
      • ‘‘You in the media think you can tell us what we're annoyed about’ was the constant refrain.’
      • ‘This is a constant refrain in the liberal press.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Since the referendum all leaders of the European Union's mainstream parties have repeated the same refrain.’
      • ‘For the moment, he is all but echoing the same refrain.’
      • ‘This has been a constant refrain from the Bush administration.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Loyalists are likely to dismiss the criticisms as a familiar refrain from opponents who have never come to terms with his leadership.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dean's emphasis on Kennedy's prudence during the Cuban missile crisis was a constant refrain of leading Democrats in late 2002.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Integration, integration, integration, is her constant refrain.’
      • ‘Amongst the journalists who responded to my queries, there was a constant refrain: ‘what can I possibly do?’’

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/