Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Fray



  • enPR: frā, IPA(key): /fɹeɪ/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪ

Etymology 1[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."
    • (Can we date this quote by Spenser and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Massinger and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      The charge of my most curious and costly ingredients frayed, I shall acknowledge myself amply satisfied.
  5. (intransitive) To rub.

Related terms[edit]


Etymology 2[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.

Related terms[edit]




Apocope of fraile (friar).


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɾai/, [ˈfɾai̯]


fray m (plural frayes)

  1. friar