fray

1 of 4

noun (1)

: a usually disorderly or protracted fight, struggle, or dispute
Fighting there could easily draw neighboring nations into the fray.Blaine Harden
… the patrician statesman who stood above the fray.Richard D. Hylton

fray

2 of 4

verb (1)

frayed; fraying; frays

transitive verb

1
a
: to wear (something, such as an edge of cloth) by or as if by rubbing : fret
b
: to separate the threads at the edge of
2
: strain, irritate
… a botched new bus system … which has frayed tempers.The Economist

intransitive verb

1
: to wear out or into shreds
2
: to show signs of strain
fraying nerves

fray

3 of 4

noun (2)

: a raveled place or worn spot (as on fabric)

fray

4 of 4

verb (2)

frayed; fraying; frays

transitive verb

archaic
: scare
also : to frighten away

Examples of fray in a Sentence

Noun (1) another generation of scientists entered the fray to find a cure for AIDS a troubled youth always getting into frays at school school officials broke up the fray and gave all guilty parties detention Verb (1) constant rubbing against the rock face has badly frayed our climbing rope
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The teaser shows an assassin attempting to take out Ross, which Wilson quickly thwarts before fleeing as more double agents enter the fray. Marc Griffin, VIBE.com, 12 July 2024 Content by this author: NATO’s Mediterranean Mission NATO is entering the fray on migration and refugees in the Mediterranean. Yuri M. Zhukov, Foreign Affairs, 1 July 2024 The groups that run the United States’ largest Pride parades have largely refrained from entering the fray. Matt Lavietes, NBC News, 28 June 2024 In most matches, two players or teams enter the fray, pick their lane, and point-and-click their way to victory. Christopher Cruz, Rolling Stone, 25 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for fray 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fray.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb (1)

Middle English fraien, from Anglo-French freier, froier to rub, from Latin fricare — more at friction

Verb (2) and Noun (1)

Middle English fraien, short for affraien to affray

First Known Use

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (2)

1630, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of fray was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near fray

Cite this Entry

“Fray.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fray. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

fray

1 of 2 noun
: an usually disorderly or long fight, struggle, or dispute

fray

2 of 2 verb
1
a
: to wear (as an edge of cloth) by or as if by rubbing
b
: to separate the threads at the edge of
cutoff jeans with frayed edges
2
: to show or cause to show signs of strain
nerves were beginning to fray
Etymology

Noun

from earlier fray "fright," from affray "quarrel, fight," derived from early French affreer "to attack, disturb, frighten" — related to afraid

Verb

Middle English fraien "to fray," from early French freier, froier "to rub," from Latin fricare "to rub" — related to friction

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