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Word for Wednesday: Refrain

January’s Word for Wednesday theme is Janus words. A Janus word is a word with contradictory meanings. These words are also known as contronyms and auto antonyms.

So far, we’ve looked at the words weatherdust and left. Today’s word is refrain.  

As a verb, refrain describes the act of stopping oneself from doing something. For example: 

  • Please refrain from smoking indoors.
  • The boy refrained from picking his nose.
  • I will refrain from saying what I think.

As a noun, the word refrain describes repeated lines at the end of a verse. For example: 

  • There’s a refrain at the end of each verse in the poem.
  • We sang the refrain louder each time. 
  • A refrain is sometimes called a chorus. 

Both meanings of the word refrain have been used since the fourteenth century and entered English via Old French. 


26 Jan 2022
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