- 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 for refrain 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 refrains
As looters roamed, you could hear a few of the refrains that have defined this situation, most notably “No justice, no peace.”Raging Protesters Set Ferguson on Fire
November 25, 2014
Berg, characteristically, refrains from offering anything resembling a definitive conclusion.A Noble Failure: Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency Considered
September 8, 2013
The refrains of “who lost Syria” and “who lost Egypt” can already be heard.Robert Ford: Troubleshooter
August 6, 2013
So long as Egypt refrains from warring against Israel, other Arab states cannot take military action by themselves.Obama's Risky Path in Egypt
Leslie H. Gelb
January 27, 2011
He refrains from setting his cleverness against the eloquence of the facts.Notes on Life and Letters
Here Sir Donald's curiosity is quickened, but he refrains from question or comment.Oswald Langdon
Carson Jay Lee
The choruses and the refrains of songs are pleasant for this reason.Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Literature
Ontario Ministry of Education
The refrains must be intoned if not sung to get the proper effect.
The refrains act like sign-posts to help the child to mark the progress.
- (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 refrains
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.