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Here is the place I saw this usage:

(Paraphrase) Mr. A's refrain that Law L be invoked against dishonest and incompetent legislators presents an interesting case.

My dictionary tells me

(irrelevant) refrain ~ noun
1. the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers

refrain ~ verb
1. resist doing something
2. choose not to consume

My understanding tells me that Mr. A obviously wants to invoke Law L against these legislators, but the dictionary tells me that he is resisting it (himself?)

What am I missing here?

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The noun definition isn't irrelevant since the usage of refrain you quote is a noun. See @Gnawme's answer. The quote is saying that Mr. (actually Ms.) A presents an interesting case by keeping on insisting that Law L be invoked against the no-good legislators. –  Daniel Sep 28 '11 at 19:07
2  
Your first (part of a song...) definition is not irrelevant. The parts of a song involving a "chorus" are usually the parts regularly repeated, as apparently are Mr A's opinions on subjecting legislators to the rule of law. –  FumbleFingers Sep 28 '11 at 19:09
    
Thanks both of you, now its more clear to me. I never thought the meaning "something which gets repeated in a song " will be relevant in customary usage. @dr65 : its not Ms. but Mr. only, his name is Anna (not like Anna Kournikova, but with Indian nasal NN accent) and he is a male, patriotic retired soldier who recently brought the Indian Government to make a resolution to pass a Law to setup a body against corruption. –  Sudhi Sep 28 '11 at 19:27
    
Sorry! I am not very well-versed in Indian names, obviously. I had thought it was your mistake, and now I see it was mine. That's embarrassing... –  Daniel Sep 28 '11 at 19:34
    
@drɱ65δ : no no!! its not your mistake (and neither it belongs to anyone, if you at all consider it as a mistake) . Its just a communication gap, which can be expanded into the multitude of differences between the cultural and geo-sociological diversities of human life –  Sudhi Sep 28 '11 at 19:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's being used in this sense (from MW Unabridged):

refrain, noun: a phrase or verse which recurs regularly

Apparently, it's something that this person calls for again and again.

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thanks, I guess I need to update my dict/thesaurus. Is this(usage) common practice? (off topic Q, please ignore : Maybe its not in my Wordnet based thesaurus Arhta because the wordnet version used is bit old? –  Sudhi Sep 28 '11 at 19:15
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I see it used this way several times at least. –  Daniel Sep 28 '11 at 19:30
    
Perhaps your Wordnet database is not very large? I subscribe to Merriam-Webster Unabridged (unabridged.merriam-webster.com) and so have access to a larger database. Dictionary.com also has this definition, but you have to wade through the ads... –  Gnawme Sep 28 '11 at 20:42

A refrain is a statement that is often repeated.

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