9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[ri-freyn] /rɪˈfreɪn/
verb (used without object)
to abstain from an impulse to say or do something (often followed by from):
I refrained from telling him what I thought.
verb (used with object)
Archaic. to curb.
Origin of refrain1
1300-50; Middle English refreinen < Old French refrener < Latin refrēnāre to bridle, equivalent to re- re- + frēn(um) bridle + -āre infinitive suffix
Related forms
refrainer, noun
refrainment, noun
unrefrained, adjective
unrefraining, adjective
Can be confused
refrain, restrain.
1. forbear, desist. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for refrained
  • Perhaps you have refrained from posting pictures you aren't happy with.
  • He has refrained from taking a stand on the fate of the territories.
  • Protesters have refrained from looting the museum, at one point even forming a human chain to protect it.
  • On the other hand companies refrained from publication.
  • When he refrained from doing so he observed, as did the other investigators, that the generations showed signs of age.
  • He bore all with patience and in silence, as if really he had been guilty, and refrained from going to the altar for six months.
  • Yet he hardened his heart to endure and refrained himself.
  • He refrained from comment, but kept glancing over, as if he could no longer concentrate on his reading.
  • He refrained, turned away, and sought another conversation elsewhere.
  • He refrained from mentioning the fact that the king can dissolve an unco-operative parliament, and veto unhelpful bills.
British Dictionary definitions for refrained


(intransitive) usually foll by from. to abstain (from action); forbear
Derived Forms
refrainer, noun
refrainment, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin refrēnāre to check with a bridle, from re- + frēnum a bridle


a regularly recurring melody, such as the chorus of a song
a much repeated saying or idea
Word Origin
C14: via Old French, ultimately from Latin refringere to break into pieces
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for refrained



mid-14c., from Old French refraigner "restrain, repress, keep in check" (12c., Modern French Réfréner), from Latin refrenare "to bridle, hold in with a bit, check, curb, keep down, control," from re- "back" (see re-) + frenare "restrain, furnish with a bridle," from frenum "a bridle." Related: Refrained; refraining.


late 14c., from Old French refrain "chorus" (13c.), alteration of refrait, noun use of past participle of refraindre "repeat," also "break off," from Vulgar Latin *refrangere "break off," alteration of Latin refringere "break up, break open" (see refraction) by influence of frangere "to break." Influenced in French by cognate Provençal refranhar "singing of birds, refrain." The notion is of something that causes a song to "break off" then resume. OED says not common before 19c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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refrained in Culture

refrain definition

In some pieces of verse, a set of words repeated at the end of each stanza.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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