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. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, "Meditations", book 6.:

    To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.

  2. Lane Olinghouse:

    To err is human to refrain from laughing, humane.

  3. Pythagoras:

    In anger we should refrain both from speech and action.

  4. Ramana Pemmaraju:

    In the best interest of profession, a writer should sometimes refrain from writing.

  5. Walter Dwight:

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

Images & Illustrations of refrain

  1. refrainrefrainrefrain

Translations for refrain

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

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"refrain." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 21 Mar. 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/refrain>.

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