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Refrain

It's usually hard to refrain from doing something, because this word is used to describe habits, like smoking, or uncontrollable urges, like laughing. The Latin word refrēnāre is formed from the prefix re- "back" plus frēnāre "to hold a horse back with a bridle." There is a noun refrain, but that's a different and unrelated word.

Introduction & Definition

Most popular songs you know contain a refrain. But you may know it better as a "chorus". 

A refrain is basically a set of lines in a poem or song that recur over and over again at the end of each of the unique verses of the work. 

Of course, this is how most modern rock and pop songs are structured. There is the verse, then there is a refrain (or chorus); then there is a new verse, and then the same refrain again. 

Examples & Rules

In order to make the meaning of the term refrain clearer for you, here are a few examples of the term being used correctly within sentences. 

"Although no one knew the verses of the popular rock song, they all sang along every single time that the powerful and anthemic refrain came around again."

"In his inspirational speech, the speaker continually returned to the same few points over and over again, as if they were the refrain that if wanted everyone in the audience to remember for a long time to come."

"The refrain of the song was so monotonous that he told his friends that he might have to become violent if anyone ever played that song again anytime in the near future."

In case you are still a little confused about the meaning of the term refrain, here are a few rules for your reference. 

1. A refrain is a set of lines of that remains the same and recur at periodic intervals between the verses of a poem or song. The refrain serves to anchor the literary work and perhaps reinforce its main meaning and theme. 

2. The meaning of the refrain can change, depending on the verse it follows. For example, the same set of words can sound happy or sad, depending on the context in which they are spoken or what the person said just before that.

3. The literary term refrain is a completely different word from the verb "refrain", which means to stop from doing something. The two words have nothing in common.  

Additional information

The refrain has a long history within the art forms of poetry and music; the word itself is derived from an old Latin verb that means "to repeat". The presence of the refrain provides a strong counterpoint to the verses, with the tone, content, and style of the refrain in a work often differing significantly from the verses and thereby providing an internal dynamism to the song or poem. The refrain is usually the more popular part of a given song: the refrain packs the memorable "punch", while the verses are often more elaborate and subtle in nature.   

The concept of the refrain, which is also called the chorus, also perhaps has an analogue in ancient Greek drama. In that genre, the lines spoken by the individual characters could be conceptualized as the verses, while the lines spoken by the collective chorus could be understand as similar to the refrain. In the same way, the refrain in a song is the part where everyone tends to sing along, while the verses tend to contain a more individualized kind of meaning. 

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