What does refrain mean?

Definitions for refrain

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

Princeton's WordNet

  1. refrain, chorusverb

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

  2. refrain, forbearverb

    resist doing something

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

  3. abstain, refrain, desistverb

    choose not to consume

    "I abstain from alcohol"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To Refrainverb

    To hold back; to keep from action.

    Etymology: refrener, Fr. re and frænum, Lat.

    Hold not thy tongue, O God, keep not still silence; refrain not thyself. Psalm lxxxiii. 1.

    My son, walk not thou in the way with them, refrain thy foot from their path. Prov. i. 15.

    Nor from the holy one of heav’n
    Refrain’d his tongue. John Milton.

    Neptune aton’d, his wrath shall now refrain,
    Or thwart the synod of the gods in vain. Alexander Pope.

  2. To Refrainverb

    To forbear; to abstain; to spare.

    In what place, or upon what consideration soever it be, they do it, were it in their own opinion of no force being done, they would undoubtedly refrain to do it. Richard Hooker.

    For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Is. xlviii. 9.

    That they fed not on flesh, at least the faithful party before the flood, may become more probable, because they refrained therefrom some time after. Thomas Browne, Vulg. Err.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Refrainverb

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

  2. Refrainverb

    to abstain from

  3. Refrainverb

    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. Etymology: [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.]

How to pronounce refrain?

How to say refrain in sign language?


  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

Examples of refrain in a Sentence

  1. Simone Weil:

    Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.”

  2. Andr Gide:

    In order to be utterly happy the only thing necessary is to refrain from comparing this moment with other moments in the past, which I often did not fully enjoy because I was comparing them with other moments of the future.

  3. Kathy Lien:

    However if data continues to miss, they may refrain from signalling a change in monetary policy three months forward.

  4. The FDA:

    Consumers are urged to avoid buying vaping products on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil or modifying/adding any substances to products purchased in stores.

  5. Dan Kritenbrink:

    We think it would be good if that non-militarization pledge, if he (Xi) would extend that across the South China Sea, we’re going to encourage our Chinese friends and other countries in the region to refrain from taking steps that raise tensions.

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Translations for refrain

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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    being essentially equal to something
    • A. arbitrary
    • B. equivalent
    • C. foreordained
    • D. aculeate

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