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See also: Fray



Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English frai, aphetic variant of affray.


fray (plural frays)

  1. A fight or argument
    Though they did not know the reason for the dispute, they did not hesitate to leap into the fray.
    • 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: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene i]:
      Who began this bloody fray?
    • 2010 December 29, Mark Vesty, “Wigan 2 - 2 Arsenal”, in BBC[1]:
      Wigan, unbeaten in five games at the DW Stadium, looked well in control but the catalyst for Arsenal's improvement finally came when Diaby left the field with a calf injury and Jack Wilshere came into the fray, bringing some much needed determination and urgency to lacklustre Arsenal.
  2. (archaic) fright

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English fraien, borrowed from Old French frayer, from Latin fricāre, present active infinitive of fricō.


fray (third-person singular simple present frays, present participle fraying, simple past and past participle frayed)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To (cause to) unravel; used particularly for the edge of something made of cloth, or the end of a rope.
    The ribbon frayed at the cut end.
  2. (intransitive, figuratively) To cause exhaustion, wear out (a person's mental strength).
    The hectic day ended in frayed nerves. (Metaphorical use; nerves are visualised as strings)
  3. (transitive, archaic) frighten; alarm
    • And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away.
    • 1662, Henry More, An Antidote Against Atheism, Book II, A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More, p. 63:
      "Besides, all the wit and Philosophy in the world can never demonstrate, that the killing and slaughtering of a Beast is anymore then the striking of a Bush where a Bird's Nest is, where you fray away the Bird, and then seize upon the empty Nest."
    • Spenser
      What frays ye, that were wont to comfort me affrayed?
    (Can we find and add a quotation of I. Taylor to this entry?)
  4. (transitive) To bear the expense of; to defray.
    • Massinger
      The charge of my most curious and costly ingredients frayed, I shall acknowledge myself amply satisfied.
  5. (intransitive) To rub.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      We can show the marks he made / When 'gainst the oak his antlers frayed.

Related terms[edit]




Apocope of fraile (friar).


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɾai/, [ˈfɾai̯]


fray m (plural frayes)

  1. friar