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Refrain Definition

A refrain (from the Old French refraindre "to repeat," likely from Vulgar Latin refringere) is the line or lines that are repeated in poetry, usually after every stanza.

Refrain Poem Example

For example, one version of the traditional ballad The Cruel Sister includes a refrain mid-verse:

There lived a lady by the North Sea shore,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom
Two daughters were the babes she bore.
Fa la la la la la la la.
As one grew bright as is the sun,
Lay the bent to the bonny broom
So coal black grew the other one.
Fa la la la la la la la.

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Other Refrain Definition

[n] the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers
[v] choose to refrain; "I abstain from alcohol"
[v] not do something; "He refrained from hitting him back"; "she could not forbear weeping"

Misc. Definitions

\Re*frain"\ (r?*fr?n"), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Refrained} (-fr?nd"); p. pr. & vb/ n. {Refraining}.] [OE. refreinen, OF. refrener, F. refr?ner, 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. To hold back; to restrain; to keep within prescribed bounds; to curb; to govern. His reson refraineth not his foul delight or talent. --Chaucer. Refrain thy foot from their path. --Prov. i. 1
2. To abstain from [Obs.] Who, requiring a remedy for his gout, received no other counsel than to refrain cold drink. --Sir T. Browne.
\Re*frain"\, v. i. To keep one's self from action or interference; to hold aloof; to forbear; to abstain. Refrain from these men, and let them alone. --Acts v. 3
8. They refrained therefrom [eating flesh] some time after. --Sir T. Browne. Syn: To hold back; forbear; abstain; withhold.
\Re*frain"\, n. [F. refrain, fr. OF. refraindre; cf. Pr. refranhs a refrain, refranher to repeat. See {Refract},{Refrain}, v.] 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. We hear the wild refrain. --Whittier.

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