December 24, 2017
refrain (noun)
\rih-FRAYN\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a regularly repeated phrase or verse of a poem or song : chorus
How do you use it?
I couldn't help but laugh when I heard my four-year-old cousin sing "Jingle Bells" and end the refrain with "in a one horse, soap, and sleigh."
Are you a word wiz?

What kinds of musical refrains were being sung when the noun "refrain" came into English?

If you chose A, you've hit the right note! The noun "refrain" came into English in the 14th century, around the same time that wandering western-European musicians called "troubadours" were singing love songs. Appropriately, the noun "refrain" comes into English from Medieval French. The French got it from a Latin verb that means "to break up." How did a verb meaning "to break up" give us a noun that refers to music? It's because the refrain, or chorus, "breaks up" the verses. There is also a verb "refrain," meaning "to curb or stop," but it comes from a different Latin root and is unrelated to the noun "refrain."
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