fret·​ful | \ ˈfret-fəl How to pronounce fretful (audio) \

Definition of fretful

: disposed to fret : irritable, restless

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Other Words from fretful

fretfully \ ˈfret-​fə-​lē How to pronounce fretful (audio) \ adverb
fretfulness noun

Examples of fretful in a Sentence

He fell into a fretful sleep.
Recent Examples on the Web The oldest man to be sworn in as president has moved through his first 100 days with an air of impatience and urgency and little evidence of fretful indecision. Washington Post, "Biden’s small moments tell big stories," 26 Apr. 2021 Two generations ago, scholars point out, parents were cautioned against this sort of always-there caregiving, with admonitions that children would become too fretful or anxious. Stephanie Hanes, The Christian Science Monitor, "‘This is crazy pants’: Pandemic redefines parenting ideals," 11 Mar. 2021 What Luhrmann describes, however, is a more fretful relationship with the divine. Anne Enright, The New York Review of Books, "Spirited Away," 23 Feb. 2021 Scorsese’s role is largely limited to explosions of laughter, often heard off camera, and fretful interjections. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Delights of New York, Fran Lebowitz, and Martin Scorsese’s Laugh," 18 Jan. 2021 Nikolaj crawls home after a Rabelaisian binge, makes it to the bedroom, and tries, in vain, to use a baby monitor as a Breathalyzer; Peter, for his part, advises a fretful pupil to soothe his nerves with a drink before an oral exam. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Planned Alcoholism in “Another Round” and Weaponized Camp in “The Prom”," 11 Dec. 2020 From my earliest days, the special produced in me only a fretful anxiety, leading to an eventual refusal to watch it. Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, "The Christmas Special From Hell," 24 Nov. 2020 But a 64-degree temperature reading in Washington (and 67 at Dulles International Airport) seemed to mock any fretful fears of impending ice and snow. Washington Post, "Sky suggests winter, but Saturday stays warm," 22 Nov. 2020 Drew is fretful by nature and will fret over this; Gina, who might be called a Manic Pixie Hot Mess, will give him reason to. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘B Positive’ is one of fall TV’s few new shows. And it has an uphill battle ahead," 5 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fretful.' 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 fretful

1594, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for fretful

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The first known use of fretful was in 1594

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Statistics for fretful

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fretful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for fretful



English Language Learners Definition of fretful

: upset and worried
: not relaxing or restful


fret·​ful | \ ˈfret-fəl How to pronounce fretful (audio) \

Kids Definition of fretful

: irritated and worried a fretful passenger

Other Words from fretful

fretfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb

Comments on fretful

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