from The Century Dictionary.

  • To hold back; restrain; curb; keep from action.
  • To forbear; abstain from; quit.
  • To forbear; abstain; keep one's self from action or interference.
  • noun A burden or chorus recurring at regular intervals in the course of a song or ballad, usually at the end of each stanza.
  • noun The musical phrase or figure to which the burden of a song is set. It has the same relation to the main part of the tune that the burden has to the main text of the song.
  • noun An after-taste or -odor; that impression which lingers on the sense: as, the refrain of a Cologne water, of a perfume, of a wine.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To keep one's self from action or interference; to hold aloof; to forbear; to abstain.
  • noun 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.
  • transitive verb To hold back; to restrain; to keep within prescribed bounds; to curb; to govern.
  • transitive verb obsolete To abstain from.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The chorus or burden of a song repeated at the end of each verse or stanza.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers
  • verb resist doing something
  • verb choose not to consume


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French refrain, from the Old French verb refraindre ("to break off, repeat"), from Latin re- ("back, again") + frangō ("break"); compare Occitan refranhs ("a refrain"), refranher ("to repeat"). See refract and the verb refrain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From a combination of Anglo-Norman refraindre, Middle French refreindre (from Latin refrangere), and Anglo-Norman refrener, Middle French refrener (from Latin refrenare).


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  • "It takes a certain sort of film fan to like a Western," said Mr. Cenac, taking a break after the late-evening show, which also featured drinking games (one gulp after anyone gets shot) and a sing-along (the title refrain of Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" after each wanted poster is glimpsed).

    Giving a Shout-Out to Infamous Films Steve Dollar 2012

  • There's nothing quite so memorable on the nine tracks of "Summer of Hate," unless you count the title refrain of "I Wanna Kill," which drips with too much smugness to feel like a threat.

    cat dirt sez "crime pay$" 2009

  • During hit song "Oh Mandy," Krill's voice warbled the title refrain to aching effect and reminded listeners why it became so infectious.

    The Scenestar 2008

  • The anthem's refrain translates as: "Grab your weapons, citizens!

    News24 Top Stories 2010

  • And when you prove them, refrain from the icky racial implications you dove right into here.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Right’s Civil War 2009

  • But I am tired and unable to refrain from the snarking here, because this was just sloppy and pathetic.

    Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway markgritter 2010

  • This is a constant refrain from the sheriff – anyone who seeks to impose any limit on his power is therefore evil and conspiring to thwart his will.

    Coyote Blog » 2009 » December 2009

  • But I am tired and unable to refrain from the snarking here, because this was just sloppy and pathetic.

    mrissa: Use "Unchained Melody" in a love scene next. Please. It'll be great. mrissa 2010

  • Suddenly, and as it were without warning, we are confronted by a fierce and warlike nation, for whom it is a paramount moral obligation to refrain from the participatory heathen cults by which they were surrounded on all sides; for whom moreover precisely that moral obligation is conceived as the very foundation of the race, the very marrow of its being.

    Sources of Theology in Job « Unknowing 2010

  • The “start over” refrain is obnoxious and Dems should be putting out ads with this refrain for the upcoming legislation and elections.

    Think Progress » VIDEO: The GOP’s Solution To Everything — Let’s ‘Start Over’ 2010


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  • Could you refrain from singing the refrain?

    November 25, 2007

  • There's a handwritten notice in a supermarket around here that reads: "Please refrain your children from climbing on the counter."

    Is it a sillyism or can refrain actually be used transitively?

    October 1, 2008

  • I think that means that you sing them off the counter.

    October 2, 2008

  • Hehe!

    October 2, 2008

  • They're multiplying, since I saw another one yesterday in the furniture shop: 'Please refrain your children from climbing on the furniture'.

    A generation of Australian children are growing up refrained.

    October 14, 2008

  • Refrain:

    "Children, please, if you're able,

    Do not climb upon the table!

    Children, do not make me swear!

    Put down that lamp! Get off that chair!"

    October 14, 2008

  • What a lyrical country Australia must be.

    October 14, 2008

  • Yeah, but they just sing the same things over and over again.


    October 14, 2008