Ask Difference

Refrain vs. Reframe — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 30, 2024
Refrain means to hold oneself back from doing something, while reframe involves changing the perspective or interpretation of a situation.
Refrain vs. Reframe — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Refrain and Reframe


Key Differences

To refrain is to consciously avoid an action or behavior, often as a matter of discipline or restraint. It implies self-control in not engaging in something tempting or habitual. On the other hand, to reframe is to alter the way a situation, concept, or problem is viewed or understood. This involves shifting the narrative or context to see things in a new light, often leading to different emotional or cognitive responses.
Refraining is an act of omission, where the focus is on the avoidance of certain behaviors or actions. This can be due to ethical reasons, social norms, or personal goals. Whereas, reframing is an act of transformation, changing the angle of perception or the framework within which something is considered. It's a strategic approach used in problem-solving, therapy, and communication to create a more positive or constructive outlook.
While the concept of refrain involves a direct relationship with one's actions and decisions, reframe interacts with one's thoughts and attitudes. Refraining might be seen in practical decisions, like not eating junk food or avoiding negative speech. Reframe, however, is applied in altering one’s understanding or interpretation, like viewing a failure as a learning opportunity instead of a setback.
Refraining is often about resistance or suppression, where an individual actively chooses not to follow through with an action. Reframing, conversely, is about empowerment and perspective change, offering new ways of thinking about or understanding experiences, challenges, or feedback.
The outcome of refraining is typically immediate and tangible, related to the avoidance of specific actions or behaviors. The outcome of reframing, however, can be more subtle and long-term, affecting one's mindset, emotional well-being, and reaction patterns to future events.

Comparison Chart


To abstain from doing something.
To change the perspective or interpretation.

Action vs. Thought

Involves deliberate non-action or avoidance.
Involves changing thoughts or perceptions.


To exercise self-control or adhere to restrictions.
To alter understanding or emotional responses.


Ethical decisions, habits, behaviors.
Problem-solving, coping strategies, communication.


Immediate avoidance of actions.
Long-term change in perspective or attitude.

Compare with Definitions


To hold back from an action or practice.
She decided to refrain from commenting on the matter.


Changing the way a situation or problem is perceived.
Reframing the failure as a learning opportunity changed his outlook.


A choice to not participate in certain activities.
We must refrain from any actions that could be misconstrued.


Adjusting one’s perspective to see a positive angle.
She reframed her job loss as a chance to pursue her passion.


Act of restraint in response to temptation or habit.
Despite the urge, she refrained from buying another pair of shoes.


Altering the narrative to foster a better emotional response.
By reframing his feedback, she found constructive criticism.


Exercise of self-control to not engage in a specific behavior.
He refrained from eating sweets to improve his health.


A cognitive technique to transform understanding.
Therapists often help clients reframe negative thoughts.


Avoidance based on moral or practical reasons.
They refrained from using plastic to help the environment.


Shift in viewpoint to enhance problem-solving.
Reframing the challenge made it seem more manageable.


A refrain (from Vulgar Latin refringere, "to repeat", and later from Old French refraindre) is the line or lines that are repeated in music or in poetry — the "chorus" of a song. Poetic fixed forms that feature refrains include the villanelle, the virelay, and the sestina.


Reframe (stylized as REframe) is the second album from Seattle-based "hardclash" band Rabbit Junk, released in April 2006. It reflects the group's expansion into additional styles, such as black metal, speed metal and breakbeat, since their 2004 self-titled first album.


To hold oneself back; forbear from doing something
Refrained from swearing.


(transitive) To frame again.
The woman in the shop was reframing a painting.


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


(transitive) To redescribe, from a different perspective; to relabel.
The military reframed tedium as duty.


Music for the refrain of a song.


An instance of reframing.


A song or melody.


To frame again or anew.


A repeated utterance or theme.


To hold back, to restrain (someone or something).


To show restraint; to hold oneself back.


To repress (a desire, emotion etc.); to check or curb.


To stop oneself from some action or interference; to abstain.


To abstain from (food or drink).


The chorus or burden of a song repeated at the end of each verse or stanza.


(by extension) A much repeated comment, complaint, or saying.


To hold back; to restrain; to keep within prescribed bounds; to curb; to govern.
His reason refraineth not his foul delight or talent.
Refrain thy foot from their path.


To abstain from.
Who, requiring a remedy for his gout, received no other counsel than to refrain cold drink.


To keep one's self from action or interference; to hold aloof; to forbear; to abstain.
Refrain from these men, and let them alone.
They refrained therefrom [eating flesh] some time after.


The burden of a song; a phrase or verse which recurs at the end of each of the separate stanzas or divisions of a poetic composition.
We hear the wild refrain.


The part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers


Not do something;
He refrained from hitting him back
She could not forbear weeping


Choose no to consume;
I abstain from alcohol

Common Curiosities

Can refraining be a form of self-discipline?

Yes, refraining often involves self-discipline, as it requires conscious effort to avoid certain actions or behaviors.

How does reframing affect one's outlook?

Reframing can significantly alter one’s outlook by changing the perception or interpretation of events, leading to more positive emotional or cognitive responses.

Is refraining always a negative action?

Refraining is not necessarily negative; it is often a positive decision to avoid actions that could have undesirable outcomes.

How does refraining impact behavior?

Refraining can lead to immediate changes in behavior by avoiding specific actions, which can have long-term effects on habits and decision-making.

How does reframing relate to problem-solving?

Reframing is crucial in problem-solving as it allows individuals to view challenges from different angles, potentially revealing new solutions.

What role does reframing play in emotional well-being?

Reframing plays a significant role in emotional well-being by helping individuals develop more adaptive and positive ways of interpreting experiences.

How does one practice refraining?

Practicing refraining involves self-awareness, setting clear boundaries, and developing the discipline to avoid certain actions or responses.

In what contexts is reframing used?

Reframing is used in various contexts, including therapy, problem-solving, and communication, to alter perspectives and improve outcomes.

What does it mean to refrain?

To refrain means to deliberately avoid or abstain from a specific action or behavior.

Can one both refrain and reframe in a situation?

Yes, one can both refrain from certain actions while simultaneously reframing their perspective on the situation to achieve a more positive or productive outcome.

Is it possible to reframe any situation?

While not all situations can be completely transformed, most can be viewed from different perspectives to find more positive or manageable aspects.

Can reframing help with stress?

Yes, reframing can help manage stress by altering the interpretation of stressful situations, reducing their emotional impact.

What benefits does reframing offer?

Reframing offers several benefits, including improved problem-solving skills, enhanced emotional resilience, and a more positive outlook on life.

How does reframing affect relationships?

Reframing can improve relationships by changing how interactions and conflicts are perceived, leading to more constructive and empathetic communication.

Is refraining a passive activity?

While refraining involves not taking a specific action, it is an active choice that requires intention and self-control.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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