refrain

When someone burps in a quiet classroom it can be hard to refrain from laughing. Use the verb refrain if you have a sudden impulse to do something, and you have stopped yourself from doing it.

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.

Primary Meanings of refrain

1.
v
resist doing something
2.
n
the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers
Full Definitions of refrain
1

v resist doing something

“He refrained from hitting him back”
Synonyms:
forbear
Antonyms:
act, move
perform an action, or work out or perform (an action)
Types:
show 10 types...
hide 10 types...
leave, leave alone, leave behind
leave unchanged or undisturbed or refrain from taking
let it go
not act
abstain
refrain from voting
save, spare
refrain from harming
forbear, hold back
refrain from doing
help, help oneself
abstain from doing; always used with a negative
stand by
not act or do anything
sit out
not participate in (an activity, such as a dance or a sports event)
let
leave unchanged
favor, favour
treat gently or carefully

v choose not to consume

Synonyms:
abstain, desist
Antonyms:
consume, have, ingest, take, take in
serve oneself to, or consume regularly
Types:
show 6 types...
hide 6 types...
fast
abstain from eating
fast
abstain from certain foods, as for religious or medical reasons
avoid, keep off
refrain from certain foods or beverages
teetotal
practice teetotalism and abstain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages
diet
eat sparingly, for health reasons or to lose weight
diet
follow a regimen or a diet, as for health reasons
2

n the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers

Synonyms:
chorus
Types:
tra-la, tra-la-la
a set of nonsensical syllables used while humming a refrain
Type of:
music
an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a life-long learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.