fre·​net·​ic | \ fri-ˈne-tik How to pronounce frenetic (audio) \

Definition of frenetic

: marked by fast and energetic, disordered, or anxiety-driven activity : frenzied, frantic sense 2 a frenetic attempt to beat a deadline frenetic bursts of energy maintaining a frenetic pace … succumb to exhaustion merely trying to keep up with the president's frenetic schedule.The Economist … the "threatening" success of Jack Kerouac's "On the Road," the signature book of the 1950s Beat Generation, and its frenetic search for sensation.— Dennis Farney

Other Words from frenetic

frenetically \ fri-​ˈne-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce frenetic (audio) \ adverb
Dillon and Deanne laughed and boogied frenetically for a moment, and then began to waltz as the speed was adjusted … — Peter Cameron Impulsive, provocative, frenetically energetic, teeming with ideas, articulate, generous and courageous, Dr Kouchner is also blunt, abrasive, impatient, disorganised, opinionated and quick-tempered. The Economist
freneticism \ fri-​ˈne-​tə-​ˌsi-​zəm How to pronounce frenetic (audio) \ noun
… the freneticism of the urban milieu of the late fifties and early sixties … — Gregory W. Bredbeck Nonstop one-liners, cartoon characters, pointless freneticism and a ridiculous denouement do not a mystery novel make. — Sybil Steinberg

Synonyms & Antonyms for frenetic



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When life gets frenetic, things can seem absolutely insane—at least that seems to be what folks in the Middle Ages thought. Frenetik, in Middle English, meant "insane." When the word no longer denoted stark raving madness, it conjured up fanatical zealots. Today, its seriousness has been downgraded to something more akin to "hectic." But if you trace frenetic back through Anglo-French and Latin, you'll find that it comes from Greek phrenitis, a term describing an inflammation of the brain. Phren, the Greek word for "mind," is a root you will recognize in schizophrenic. As for frenzied and frantic, they're not only synonyms of frenetic but relatives as well. Frantic comes from frenetik, and frenzied traces back to phrenitis.

Examples of frenetic in a Sentence

The celebration was noisy and frenetic. the frenetic rush to get every member of the cast in place before the curtain went up
Recent Examples on the Web The private maneuvering is usually frenetic, with high-profile politicians enlisted to personally lobby decision-makers behind the scenes to build Atlanta’s case. al, 29 July 2022 While the takeover of the presidential residence and office this weekend was largely peaceful, with protesters cleaning trash and tidying the halls, the subsequent occupations have been more frenetic., 14 July 2022 While the takeover of the presidential residence and office this weekend was largely peaceful, with protesters cleaning trash and tidying the halls, the subsequent occupations have been more frenetic. New York Times, 14 July 2022 So western venture capitalists—buoyed by low interest rates and fear of missing out on the next big thing—bought in at a frenetic pace, alongside investors from Asia and the Middle East. Aanu Adeoye, Quartz, 21 July 2022 The courts bear little resemblance to the frenetic, prepandemic past, when lines of beleaguered tenants spilled around the block and crowded hallways featured raucous settlement talks. New York Times, 2 May 2022 In the frenetic third period, both sides narrowly failed to capitalize on breakaways and opponents’ mistakes, and the tension led to a couple of pushing-and-shoving scrums as well., 10 June 2022 The move that sent forward Gabby Williams to the Seattle Storm in exchange for forward Katie Lou Samuelson and a first-round pick was only the first domino in a frenetic free-agency period that announced the Sparks as playoff contenders again. Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2022 Athletes at the Games said that Rogers, in addition to being a skilled physical therapist, adds a warm and reassuring presence to the U.S. team — particularly for younger skiers in the frenetic environment of the Olympics. Nathaniel Herz, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frenetic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of frenetic

circa 1529, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for frenetic

Middle English frenetik, frentik, frantike "temporarily deranged, delirious," borrowed from Anglo-French frenetic, frenetique, borrowed from Latin phrenēticus "suffering from madness," borrowed from Greek phrenētikós, late variant of phrenītikós, from phrenîtis "inflammation of the brain, delirium, insanity" (from phren-, phrḗn "midriff, seat of the passions, mind, wit" —of uncertain origin— + -ītis -itis) + -ikos -ic entry 1

Note: The variants frentik and frantike suggest that frenetic was originally stressed on the first syllable; compare frantic, frenzy. — It has been assumed since antiquity that Greek phrḗn originally referred to a body part, but the nature of that part has never been completely clarified. Of the instances of the word in the Iliad and Odyssey (usually in the plural phrénes) that do not unambiguously refer to mental faculties, the consensus has been since the Homeric scholiasts that the word refers to the midriff and more specifically to the diaphragm. But occurrences in the Iliad such as the following passage (XVI, 503-04) would appear to indicate otherwise: "ho dè làx en stḗthesi baínōn / ek chroòs hélke dóru, protì dè phrénes autôi héponto" ("… and Patroklos stepping heel braced to chest dragged / the spear out of his [the Lycian hero Sarpedon's] body, and the midriff came away with it"—Richmond Lattimore translation). The phrénes that come out with the spear cannot reasonably refer to the entire midsection of Sarpedon's torso, nor does it seem likely that the diaphragm—mostly a thin sheet of tissue between the lungs and abdominal organs—would be pulled out either. (For detailed discussion of Greek usage see S. Ireland and F. L. D. Steel, "Greek φρένες as an anatomical Organ in the Works of Homer," Glotta, 53. Band, Heft 3/4 [1975], pp. 183-95.) Though ablaut variants of phrḗn have a rich derivational history in Greek, the word has no sure Indo-European etymology. A connection with Old Icelandic grunr "suspicion," gruna, grunda "to suspect" (presumed Indo-European *gwhren-?, with no other Germanic congeners) is doubtful at best. The formation of phrḗn is paralleled by several other body part words, as adḗn "gland" (see adeno-), auchḗn "neck, throat," splḗn "spleen" (see spleen).

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The first known use of frenetic was circa 1529

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Last Updated

10 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Frenetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of frenetic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frenetic for Arabic Speakers


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