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Definition of "refrain" []

  • To hold oneself back; forbear: refrained from swearing. (verb-intransitive)
  • Archaic To restrain or hold back; curb. (verb-transitive)
  • A phrase, verse, or group of verses repeated at intervals throughout a song or poem, especially at the end of each stanza. (noun)
  • Music for the refrain of a poem. (noun)
  • A song or melody. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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