From Middle English affraien (“to terrify, frighten”), borrowed from Anglo-Norman afrayer (“to terrify, disquiet, disturb”) and Old French effreer, esfreer (“to disturb, remove the peace from”) (compare modern French effrayer), from Vulgar Latin *exfridāre or from es- (“ex-”) + freer (“to secure, secure the peace”), from Frankish *friþu (“security, peace”), from Proto-Germanic *friþuz (“peace”), from *frijōną (“to free; to love”), from Proto-Indo-European *prāy-, *prēy- (“to like, love”). Cognate with Old High German fridu (“peace”), Old English friþ (“peace, frith”), Old English frēod (“peace, friendship”), German Friede (“peace”). Compare also afear. More at free, friend.
- (archaic, transitive) To startle from quiet; to alarm.
- (archaic, transitive) To frighten; to scare; to frighten away.
- c. 1591–1595, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene v]:
- That voice doth us affray.
- The act of suddenly disturbing anyone; an assault or attack.
- A tumultuous assault or quarrel.
- The fighting of two or more persons, in a public place, to the terror of others.
- The affray in the busy marketplace caused great terror and disorder.
- (obsolete) Terror.