1 : to eat or gnaw into : wear, corrode; also : fray
2 : to become vexed or worried
3 : agitate
Did You Know?
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.
A consummate worrier, he frets over every little thing that might go wrong.
"Some political analysts had fretted before the speech that Obama would use the occasion as a 'victory lap' in the same way that Mr. Bush famously declared 'mission accomplished' for Iraq in May 2003." -- From an article by Howard LaFranchi in The Christian Science Monitor, September 1, 2010
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