1

fret

play
verb \ ˈfret \
Updated on: 9 Aug 2017

Definition of fret

fretted; fretting
transitive verb
1 a :to eat or gnaw into :corrode; also :fray
  • The acid fretted the metal.
b :rub, chafe
  • The harness strap was fretting the horse.
c :to make by wearing away a substance
  • the stream fretted a channel
2 :to cause to suffer emotional strain :vex
  • don't you fret yourself about me
  • —J. C. Powys
3 :to pass (time) in fretting
  • a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage
  • —William Shakespeare
4 :agitate, ripple
  • fret the surface of the lake
intransitive verb
1 a :to eat into something
b :to affect something as if by gnawing or biting :grate
  • the … urgent voice fretted at his nerves
  • —Graham Greene
2 a :wear, corrode
  • Marble frets away due to the rain.
b :chafe
  • His back where the harness rubbed began to fret.
c :fray 1
3 a :to become vexed or worried
  • fretting over the high cost of feeding their families
  • —Vance Packard
b of running water :to become agitated
  • a brook fretting over rocks

fret was our Word of the Day on 08/19/2016. Hear the podcast!

fret and Eating

Since its first use centuries ago, fret has referred to an act of eating, especially when done by animals—in particular, small ones. You might speak, for example, of moths fretting your clothing. Like eat, fret also developed figurative senses to describe actions that corrode or wear away. A river could be said to "fret away" at its banks or something might be said to be "fretted out" with time or age. Fret can also be applied to emotional experiences so that something that "eats away at us" might be said to "fret the heart or mind." This use developed into the specific meaning of "vex" or "worry" with which we often use fret today.

Origin and Etymology of fret

Middle English, to devour, fret, from Old English fretan to devour; akin to Old High German frezzan to devour, ezzan to eat — more at eat


2

fret

noun

Definition of fret

1 a :the action of wearing away :erosion
b :a worn or eroded spot
2 :an agitation of mind :irritation

Origin and Etymology of fret

see 1fret


3

fret

verb

Definition of fret

fretted; fretting
transitive verb
1 a :to decorate with interlaced designs
b :to form a pattern upon
2 :to enrich with embossed or pierced carved patterns

Origin and Etymology of fret

Middle English, back-formation from fret, fretted adorned, interwoven, from Anglo-French fretté, past participle of fretter to tie, probably from Vulgar Latin *firmitare, from Latin firmus firm

Other Fine Arts Terms


4

fret

noun

Definition of fret

1 :an ornamental network; especially :a medieval metallic or jeweled net for a woman's headdress
2 :an ornament or ornamental work often in relief consisting of small straight bars intersecting one another in right or oblique angles

Illustration of fret

First Known Use of fret

14th century


5

fret

noun

Definition of fret

:one of a series of ridges fixed across the fingerboard of a stringed musical instrument (such as a guitar)

fretless

adjective

fretted

adjective

Origin and Etymology of fret

perhaps from Middle French frete ferrule, from freter


6

fret

verb

Definition of fret

fretted; fretting
transitive verb
:to press (the strings of a stringed instrument) against the frets

First Known Use of fret

1602


FRET Defined for Kids

1

fret

play
verb \ ˈfret \

Definition of fret for Students

fretted; fretting
:1worry 1
  • … it was a thing which could not be helped, so I seldom fretted about it …
  • —Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee

2

fret

noun

Definition of fret for Students

:an irritated or worried state


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