- to abstain from an impulse to say or do something (often followed by from): I refrained from telling him what I thought.
- Archaic. to curb.
Origin of refrain1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- a phrase or verse recurring at intervals in a song or poem, especially at the end of each stanza; chorus.
- a musical setting for the refrain of a poem.
- any melody.
- the principal, recurrent section of a rondo.
Origin of refrain2
Examples from the Web for refrain
However much we gossip about heterosexual couples with large age gaps, we at least refrain from calling them sex offenders.Freaking Out About Age Gaps in Gay Relationships Is Homophobic
January 9, 2015
Or “you give us Keystone, and we may refrain from throwing the world financial markets into turmoil.”For Obama, Hell Week Has Arrived
November 15, 2014
Texas Senator Ted Cruz wove a refrain into his speech that “morning is coming.”Why The Values Voter Summit Isn't Any Fun
September 28, 2014
I will refrain from going there—although, I must say, I am fighting a powerful gut feeling.Why the Right Thinks Obama’s a Narcissist—and Why They’re Wrong
September 18, 2014
It offered to refrain from new sanctions only if the Kremlin controlled the rebels.Putin's 'Peace' In Ukraine
September 5, 2014
He could not refrain from showing his satisfaction with Evelyn.Grace Harlowe's Return to Overton Campus
Jessie Graham Flower
Notwithstanding her firm determination to forget him, she could not refrain from questioning them about him.The Dream
I could not refrain from whispering, "Don't cry—I am alive."Tales And Novels, Volume 4 (of 10)
These mince pies may be eaten by persons who refrain from meat in Lent.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
I am free to resume my interrupted flight of fancy, but I refrain.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
- (intr usually foll by from) to abstain (from action); forbear
- a regularly recurring melody, such as the chorus of a song
- a much repeated saying or idea
Word Origin and History for refrain
mid-14c., from Old French refraigner "restrain, repress, keep in check" (12c., Modern French Réfréner), from Latin refrenare "to bridle, hold in with a bit, check, curb, keep down, control," from re- "back" (see re-) + frenare "restrain, furnish with a bridle," from frenum "a bridle." Related: Refrained; refraining.
late 14c., from Old French refrain "chorus" (13c.), alteration of refrait, noun use of past participle of refraindre "repeat," also "break off," from Vulgar Latin *refrangere "break off," alteration of Latin refringere "break up, break open" (see refraction) by influence of frangere "to break." Influenced in French by cognate Provençal refranhar "singing of birds, refrain." The notion is of something that causes a song to "break off" then resume. OED says not common before 19c.