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

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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

Did You Know?

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. Phrēn, 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 Typically a frenetic mash of tailgating, merchandise hawkers, rowdy pregame entertainment and long lines at every entrance point, the vibe leading into kickoff more closely resembled a random midseason game than the biggest stage in the sport. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "Surreal scene at Hard Rock Stadium grim reminder of difficult college football season," 11 Jan. 2021 Back in the day, putting out an afternoon paper was a frenetic, exhausting exercise in meeting one deadline after another — with bursts of news akin to today’s Twitter feeds. Bill Rankin, ajc, "Remembering Herb Steely, the soul of The Atlanta Journal," 31 Dec. 2020 Alibaba Group Holding led a second day of frenetic selling among China’s largest tech firms, driven by fears that antitrust scrutiny will spread beyond Jack Ma’s internet empire and engulf the country’s most powerful corporations. Time, "China’s Crackdown on Alibaba and Ant Drive $200 Billion Tech Selloff," 28 Dec. 2020 The only real complaints here are the fiddly controls for grabbing other players and the slow, between-round waits that hamper the frenetic nature of the mini-games themselves. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2020," 22 Dec. 2020 The massively popular YouTuber, aka Jimmy Donaldson, has 48.4 million subscribers and has gained traction for his frenetic flavor of philanthropy. Anna Caplan, Dallas News, "YouTuber MrBeast brings delivery-only burger chain to Dallas area, and business has been ‘crazy’," 21 Dec. 2020 The fact that the nation, admittedly some states more than others, has had to endure a collective quarantine for nearly a year means that as the vaccine takes hold there will be almost a frenetic desire to gather in public. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, "Will San Francisco, New York and other big cities recover from COVID-19? What a post-vaccine city could look like," 19 Dec. 2020 Walker’s frenetic playing style can be fun to watch. G Smith,, "Evolving relationship: Jordan Walker earning trust of coach Ron Hunter despite outbursts," 18 Dec. 2020 Due to the frenetic scheduling of the COVID era, all of the hospital's OBs are busy. Ariana Romero,, "There’s A Deeper Meaning To Jo’s Big Grey’s Anatomy Decision," 14 Dec. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for frenetic

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The first known use of frenetic was circa 1529

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Frenetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for frenetic


How to pronounce frenetic (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of frenetic

: filled with excitement, activity, or confusion : wild or frantic

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