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.
- re·frain·er, noun
- re·frain·ment, noun
- un·re·frained, adjective
- un·re·frain·ing, adjective
- refrain , restrain
Other definitions for refrain (2 of 2)
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.
the principal, recurrent section of a rondo.
an often heard statement, opinion, etc.: Today’s technology haters have a common refrain—robots are bad for society.
a frequently occurring situation or series of events:The game followed a familiar refrain: a strong first quarter start that eventually fizzles out.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use refrain in a sentence
We urge members of Congress to refrain from relying on this one-sided staff report to guide future legislation.House panel proposes largest antitrust reforms in decades to rein in Big Tech | kdunn6 | October 7, 2020 | Fortune
When she was reinstated in 2015, Dwyer-Jones was allowed to practice law so long as she refrained from drinking alcohol and using mood-altering drugs that were not prescribed to her, disciplinary records show.Maine Hires Lawyers With Criminal Records to Defend Its Poorest Residents | by Samantha Hogan, The Maine Monitor, with data analysis by Agnel Philip | October 6, 2020 | ProPublica
In other words, we should refrain from undermining others’ dignity.
I’ve seen the refrain time and again in reviews of papers where my coauthors and I presented a method motivated by an application, and I’ve heard similar stories from countless others.Too many AI researchers think real-world problems are not relevant | Amy Nordrum | August 18, 2020 | MIT Technology Review
Those apps were able to refrain from allowing Amazon and Roku to sell their ad inventory because Amazon and Roku needed Hulu and CBS All Access on their platforms in order to sell their CTV devices.Shut out of Fire TV and Roku, Peacock is the latest example of the arrival power moves to streaming | Tim Peterson | July 15, 2020 | Digiday
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 | Samantha Allen | January 9, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
Or “you give us Keystone, and we may refrain from throwing the world financial markets into turmoil.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz wove a refrain into his speech that “morning is coming.”
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 | John McWhorter | September 18, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Despairing about the length and frequency of the many fashion weeks has become a tired refrain.The Drama of Being a Model: Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill Land in Fashion Week | Allison McNearney | September 8, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
Others faultily refrain altogether from renewing them in their social capacities.The Ordinance of Covenanting | John Cunningham
As the husband's rights to such an estate have been abolished in many states, we refrain from adding more principles.Putnam's Handy Law Book for the Layman | Albert Sidney Bolles
It is impossible to refrain from applauding the king for this manifestation of spirit and self-respect.Madame Roland, Makers of History | John S. C. Abbott
Queeker was gazing at one of the sketches with an aspect so haggard and savage that Mr Durant could not refrain from remarking it.The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands | R.M. Ballantyne
Lawrence and Dan could hardly refrain from shouting aloud; even Mr. Chittenden was surprised at the feeling Grace showed.The Courier of the Ozarks | Byron A. Dunn
British Dictionary definitions for refrain (1 of 2)
(intr usually foll by from) to abstain (from action); forbear
- refrainer, noun
- refrainment, noun
British Dictionary definitions for refrain (2 of 2)
a regularly recurring melody, such as the chorus of a song
a much repeated saying or idea
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cultural definitions for refrain
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.