[ ri-freyn ]
/ rɪˈfreɪn /

verb (used without object)

to abstain from an impulse to say or do something (often followed by from): I refrained from telling him what I thought.

verb (used with object)

Archaic. to curb.

Nearby words

  1. refractory,
  2. refractory anemia,
  3. refractory period,
  4. refractory state,
  5. refracture,
  6. reframe,
  7. refrangible,
  8. refreeze,
  9. refresco,
  10. refresh

Origin of refrain

1300–50; Middle English refreinen < Old French refrener < Latin refrēnāre to bridle, equivalent to re- re- + frēn(um) bridle + -āre infinitive suffix

Related formsre·frain·er, nounre·frain·ment, nounun·re·frained, adjectiveun·re·frain·ing, adjective

Can be confusedrefrain restrain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for refraining

British Dictionary definitions for refraining


/ (rɪˈfreɪn) /


(intr usually foll by from) to abstain (from action); forbear
Derived Formsrefrainer, nounrefrainment, noun

Word Origin for refrain

C14: from Latin refrēnāre to check with a bridle, from re- + frēnum a bridle


/ (rɪˈfreɪn) /


a regularly recurring melody, such as the chorus of a song
a much repeated saying or idea

Word Origin for refrain

C14: via Old French, ultimately from Latin refringere to break into pieces

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

Word Origin and History for refraining
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for refraining


In some pieces of verse, a set of words repeated at the end of each stanza.

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.