What does refrain mean?

Definitions for refrainrɪˈfreɪn

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word refrain.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. refrain, chorus(verb)

    the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers

  2. refrain, forbear(verb)

    resist doing something

    "He refrained from hitting him back"; "she could not forbear weeping"

  3. abstain, refrain, desist(verb)

    choose not to consume

    "I abstain from alcohol"

Webster Dictionary

  1. Refrain(verb)

    to hold back; to restrain; to keep within prescribed bounds; to curb; to govern

  2. Refrain(verb)

    to abstain from

  3. Refrain(verb)

    to keep one's self from action or interference; to hold aloof; to forbear; to abstain

  4. Refrain

    the burden of a song; a phrase or verse which recurs at the end of each of the separate stanzas or divisions of a poetic composition

  5. Origin: [OE. refreinen, OF. refrener, F. refrner, fr. L. refrenare; influenced by OF. refraindre to restrain, moderate, fr. LL. refrangere, for L. refringere to break up, break (see Refract). L. refrenare is fr. pref. re- back + frenum bridle; cf. Skr. dh to hold.]


  1. Refrain

    A refrain from Vulgar Latin refringere, "to repeat", and later from Old French refraindre) is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in verse; the "chorus" of a song. Poetic fixed forms that feature refrains include the villanelle, the virelay, and the sestina. The use of refrains is particularly associated with where the verse-chorus-verse song structure typically places a refrain in almost every song. The refrain or chorus often sharply contrasts the verse melodically, rhythmically, and harmonically, and assumes a higher level of dynamics and activity, often with added instrumentation. Chorus form, or strophic form, is a sectional and/or additive way of structuring a piece of music based on the repetition of one formal section or block played repeatedly. See also verse-chorus form.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Refrain

    rē-frān′, n. a burden or chorus recurring at the end of each division of a poem: the musical form to which the burden of a song is set: an after-taste or other sense impression. [O. Fr. refrainrefraindre—L. refringĕre (refrangĕre).]

  2. Refrain

    rē-frān′, v.t. to curb: to restrain.—v.i. to keep from action: to forbear.—ns. Refrain′er; Refrain′ment. [O. Fr. refraindre (Fr. refréner)—Low L. refrenārere-, back, frenum, a bridle.]


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of refrain in Chaldean Numerology is: 6

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of refrain in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Sample Sentences & Example Usage

  1. Walter Dwight:

    'We must do something' is the unanimous refrain. 'You begin' is the deadening refrain.

  2. John Kerry:

    All parties need to refrain from incitement and refrain from engaging in activities that put that relationship at risk.

  3. Jamal Benomar:

    I urge all sides at this time of rising tensions and rhetoric to de-escalate and exercise maximum restraint, and refrain from provocation.

  4. Buddha:

    You should respect each other and refrain from disputes you should not, like water and oil, repel each other, but should, like milk and water, mingle together.

  5. Margot Wallstrom:

    We want them to refrain from violence, to seek cooperation in all possible ways. And above all to defend democracy, human rights and the position of women in what's going to be nation-building for Palestine from now on.

Images & Illustrations of refrain

  1. refrainrefrainrefrain

Translations for refrain

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"refrain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 21 Oct. 2017. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/refrain>.

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