There are 2 main definitions of refrain in English:

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refrain 1

Line breaks: re|frain
Pronunciation: /rɪˈfreɪn/


[no object]
Stop oneself from doing something: she refrained from comment
More example sentences
  • Of them all, Sainte-Beuve alone refrained from hurting me with foolish words.
  • The serious complication of pneumothorax can be avoided by refraining from aiming the needle at an intercostal space.
  • To avoid their after taste during dessert, we might have refrained from eating them had we noticed them sooner.
abstain, desist, hold back, stop oneself, withhold;
forbear, forgo, do without, dispense with, resist the temptation to, avoid, steer clear of, give a wide berth to, have nothing to do with, fight shy of, eschew, shun, renounce, forswear, abjure, leave alone, not touch, reject;
stop, cease, finish, discontinue, give up, break off, drop
British informal jack in
archaic forsake


Middle English (in the sense 'restrain a thought or feeling'): from Old French refrener, from Latin refrenare, from re- (expressing intensive force) + frenum 'bridle'.

Words that rhyme with refrain

abstain, appertain, arcane, arraign, ascertain, attain, Bahrain, bane, blain, brain, Braine, Cain, Caine, campaign, cane, cinquain, chain, champagne, champaign, Champlain, Charmaine, chicane, chow mein, cocaine, Coleraine, Coltrane, complain, constrain, contain, crane, Dane, deign, demesne, demi-mondaine, detain, disdain, domain, domaine, drain, Duane, Dwane, Elaine, entertain, entrain, explain, fain, fane, feign, gain, Germaine, germane, grain, humane, Hussein, inane, Jain, Jane, Jermaine, Kane, La Fontaine, lain, lane, legerdemain, Lorraine, main, Maine, maintain, mane, mise en scène, Montaigne, moraine, mundane, obtain, ordain, Paine, pane, pertain, plain, plane, Port-of-Spain, profane, rain, Raine, reign, rein, retain, romaine, sane, Seine, Shane, Sinn Fein, skein, slain, Spain, Spillane, sprain, stain, strain, sustain, swain, terrain, thane, train, twain, Ujjain, Ukraine, underlain, urbane, vain, vane, vein, Verlaine, vicereine, wain, wane, Wayne
Definition of refrain in:
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There are 2 main definitions of refrain in English:

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refrain 2 Line breaks: re|frain
Pronunciation: /rɪˈfreɪn/


1A repeated line or number of lines in a poem or song, typically at the end of each verse.
Example sentences
  • These all seem to derive from the Folio text, but some may supplement it by accurately recording where breaks came between verses and refrains.
  • Even Isaiah turns preacher in our text with a sermonic refrain repeated in verses 21 and 28.
  • In these ten short verses, the refrain, ‘Do not fear,’ occurs three times.
1.1The musical accompaniment for a refrain: he would play the refrain
More example sentences
  • Musical refrains differ by virtue of the score or the performer.
  • The fast sections are extremely delightful with slow sections having wonderful melodies and tender refrains.
  • The arrangements are intelligent without being fussy: tuneful refrains for cello and woodwind, beguiling motifs for piano and vibes, emotional guitar and restrained drums.
1.2A comment or complaint that is often repeated: ‘Poor Tom’ had become the constant refrain of his friends
More example sentences
  • Amongst the journalists who responded to my queries, there was a constant refrain: ‘what can I possibly do?’
  • A constant refrain from Australian political parties not only in the recent election campaign but for generations has been that Australia cannot afford more money for national defence.
  • Dean's emphasis on Kennedy's prudence during the Cuban missile crisis was a constant refrain of leading Democrats in late 2002.


Late Middle English: from Old French, from refraindre 'break', based on Latin refringere 'break up' (because the refrain ‘broke’ the sequence).

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