What are the differences between "Repetition and Refrain in literature?

and I've looked up some of the examples and sometimes they both hard to recognize which one is Repetition and Refrain. How do i distinguish it?

  • 1
    I'd say that 'Literature' is the appropriate SE site for this question. The terminology is subject-specific. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 12:27
  • 2
    Refrain brings to mind song or poetry, in which some words or lines are repeated. Repetition can be anything that is repeated, even letters, concepts or ideas.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


Repetition is a very general term, but refrain is more specific.

Repetition of any sounds or words can create a rhythm, sort of a drumming effect due to the repeat. A stitch in time saves nine barely rhymes but the repeated 'i' is pleasant to the ear. Live and let live gives us repetition of the 'l' sound.

Refrain is usually that last line that shows up each time in a poem or song verse —that's the part called the refrain.

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind...

Que sera, sera

American Heritage definition: A phrase, verse, or group of verses repeated at intervals throughout a song or poem, especially at the end of each stanza.


Refrain is actually repetition of same line in a speech or in a poesy. Whereas repetition is word repeating in a line.

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