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What does the word "refractory" in "refractory period" refer to?

I know what it means "refractory period" (both, absolute and relative) in the action potential graph, but I don't understand what the meaning of "refractory" in this context is. What is it refractory for?

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  • $\begingroup$ Probably I found the answer in Britannica: $\endgroup$ May 28, 2017 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ "After repolarization there is a period during which a second action potential cannot be initiated, no matter how large a stimulus current is applied to the neuron. This is called the absolute refractory period, and it is followed by a relative refractory period, during which another action potential can be generated, but only by a greater stimulus current than that originally needed. This period is followed by the return of the neuronal properties to the threshold levels originally required for the initiation of action potentials." $\endgroup$ May 28, 2017 at 12:52
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    $\begingroup$ That is excellent searching. It's great that your question was answered relatively shortly after you postd it. We like and expect that all users will try to answer their own question before they post, so kudos to you. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2017 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you:) Actually as usual I searched about my question and I even saw the quotation before, but just later I got the relation between the "refractory" to the things that's written there, though it is not written clearly that this is why they are called "refractory". $\endgroup$ May 28, 2017 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ @UbiquitousStudent You can post your comment as an actual answer to your question and select it as the best answer by clicking on the checkmark. This closes the question and also makes it easier for the community to know the answer. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2017 at 16:57

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From encyclopedia Britannica:

"After repolarization there is a period during which a second action potential cannot be initiated, no matter how large a stimulus current is applied to the neuron. This is called the absolute refractory period, and it is followed by a relative refractory period, during which another action potential can be generated, but only by a greater stimulus current than that originally needed. This period is followed by the return of the neuronal properties to the threshold levels originally required for the initiation of action potentials."

Absolute refractory period = initiation impossible absolutely

Relative refractory period = initiation possible but in greater energy relative to the original required.

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