fray

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See also: Fray

English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

The verb is derived from Late Middle English fraien (to beat so as to cause bruising, to bruise; to crush; to rub; to wear, wear off),[1] borrowed from Old French fraier, freier, freiier (modern French frayer (to clear, open up (a path, etc.); (figuratively) to find one’s way through (something); (obsolete) to rub)), from Latin fricāre,[2] the present active infinitive of fricō (to chafe; to rub), an intensive form of friō (to break into pieces, crumble; to rub), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bʰreyH- (to cut). Sense 1.2 (“to force or make (a path, way, etc.) through”) is derived from modern French frayer: see above.

The noun is derived from the verb.[3]

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (transitive)
    1. (also figuratively) To rub or wear away (something); to cause (something made of strands twisted or woven together, such as cloth or rope) to unravel through friction; also, to irritate (something) through chafing or rubbing; to chafe.
      • 1538, Erasmus Sarcerius, “Of the Lawe of God”, in Richard Taverner, transl., Cõmon Places of Scripture Ordrely and after a Cõpendious Forme of Teachyng, Set Forth with No Litle Labour, [], London: [] John Byddell, [], OCLC 1063243010, folio lxv, recto:
        S. Paul alſo defineth the law to be the knowlege of ſyn, yͭ is, which accuſeth, frayeth the cõſcience, & maketh ſynnes knowen.
      • 1710 November 13 (Gregorian calendar), Isaac Bickerstaff [et al., pseudonyms; Richard Steele], “Thursday, November 2, 1710”, in The Tatler, number 245; republished in [Richard Steele], editor, The Tatler, [], volume III, London stereotype edition, London: I. Walker and Co.; [], 1822, OCLC 69947324, page 309:
        [W]ith the help of her consorts, [she] carried off the following goods of her said lady; viz. [] four striped muslin night-rails very little frayed; []
      • 1840 April – 1841 November, Charles Dickens, “Chapter the Seventeenth”, in The Old Curiosity Shop. A Tale. [], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1841, OCLC 1109979921, page 182:
        Everything told of long use and quiet slow decay; the very bell-rope in the porch was frayed into a fringe, and hoary with old age.
      • 1860 December – 1861 August, Charles Dickens, chapter I, in Great Expectations [], volume III, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published October 1861, OCLC 3359935, page 1:
        It was a little past mid-day when the four-horse stage-coach by which I was a passenger, got into the ravel of traffic frayed out about the Cross-Keys, Wood-street, Cheapside, London.
      1. (specifically) Of a deer: to rub (its antlers or head) against a tree, etc., to remove the velvet from antlers or to mark territory; also, to rub its antlers against (a tree, etc.) for that purpose.
    2. To force or make (a path, way, etc.) through.
    3. (obsolete) To bruise (someone or something); also, to take the virginity of (someone, usually a female person); to deflower.
  2. (intransitive)
    1. To become unravelled or worn; to unravel.
      The laces frayed at the cut end.
      • 1817 December, [Jane Austen], chapter III, in Northanger Abbey; published in Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion. [], volume I, London: John Murray, [], 1818, OCLC 318384910, pages 38–39:
        "And pray, sir, what do [you] think of Miss Morland's gown?" / "It is very pretty, madam," said he, gravely examining it; "but I do not think it will wash well; I am afraid it will fray."
    2. To rub.
      • 1884, Richard Jefferies, “Wild Exmoor”, in Red Deer, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 31461363, page 29:
        Another distance, I do not know how far, of dry dark heather continually fraying against my knees, is traversed, when in front appears a coombe, overgrown with heather from summit to foot, and I stop suddenly.
      1. (specifically) Of a deer: to rub its antlers against a tree, etc., to remove the velvet or to mark territory.
    3. (figuratively) Of a person's mental strength, nerves, temper, etc.: to become exhausted or worn out.
      The hectic day ended in her nerves frayed.
Conjugation[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

fray (plural frays)

  1. (archaic or obsolete) A consequence of rubbing, unravelling, or wearing away; a fraying; also, a place where fraying has occurred.
    • c. 1613 (date written; published 1630), Thomas Middleton, “A Chaste Maid in Cheapside”, in A[rthur] H[enry] Bullen, editor, The Works of Thomas Middleton [] (The English Dramatists), volume V, London: John C. Nimmo [], published 1885, OCLC 2863702, Act I, scene i, lines 34–35, page 7:
      [T]here's no woman made without a flaw; / Your purest lawns have frays, and cambrics bracks.
      Modernized from the 1630 text, where the word was spelled frayes.
    • 1648, Robert Herrick, “Amatory Odes. Ode CXLI. To the Fever, Not to Trouble Julia.”, in Hesperides: Or, The Works both Humane & Divine [], London: [] John Williams, and Francis Eglesfield, and are to be sold by Tho[mas] Hunt, [], OCLC 1044244285; republished as Henry G. Clarke, editor, Hesperides, or Works both Human and Divine, volume I, London: H. G. Clarke and Co., [], 1844, OCLC 1110372590, page 98:
      'Tis like a lawny firmament, as yet / Quite dispossess'd of either fray or fret.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Late Middle English fraien (to attack, invade; to make an attack; to brawl, fight; to make a loud noise (?); to frighten, terrify; to be frightened of (something), fear),[4] an aphetic variant of affraien (to attack, invade; to harass; to brawl, fight; to riot; to reproach; to frighten, terrify; to be frightened of (something), fear; to alarm, disturb; to arouse, awaken, excite) (whence affray),[5][6] from Anglo-Norman affraier, afrayer (to frighten, terrify; to disquiet; to disturb) [and other forms], a variant of effreier, esfreier [and other forms], and Old French effreer, esfreer (to frighten, scare; to be afraid) [and other forms] (modern French effrayer),[7] from Vulgar Latin *exfridāre, from Latin ex- (prefix indicating privation) + Frankish *friþu (peace) (from Proto-Germanic *friþuz (peace, tranquility; refuge, sanctuary), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *preyH- (to love; to please)).

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (transitive)
    1. (except poetic) To alarm or frighten (someone or something).
      Synonyms: (archaic) affray, (obsolete) effray
    2. Often followed by away, off, or out: to frighten or scare (someone or something) away.
      Synonym: (archaic) affray
      • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], part 1, 2nd edition, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, OCLC 932920499; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire; London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act V, scene ii:
        VVhat, are the turtles fraid out of their neaſts?
      • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Jeremiah 7:33, column 1:
        And the carkeiſes of this people ſhall be meate for the fowles of the heauen, and for the beaſts of the earth, and none ſhall fray them away.
      • 1626, [Samuel] Purchas, “Relations of the Regions and Religions in Africa. []”, in Purchas His Pilgrimes. [], 5th part, London: [] William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, [], OCLC 960103045, 6th book, § III (Of Crocodiles, Serpents, and Other Strange Creatures), page 624:
        It [the basilisk] frayeth avvay other Serpents vvith the hiſſing.
      • 1653, Henry More, “The Usefullnesse of Animalls an Argument of Divine Providence”, in An Antidote against Atheisme, or An Appeal to the Natural Faculties of the Minde of Man, whether There Be Not a God, London: [] Roger Daniel, [], OCLC 228721837, book I, page 77:
        Beſides, all the vvit and Philoſophy in the vvorld can never demonſtrate, that the killing and ſlaughtering of a Beaſt is any more then the ſtriking of a Buſh vvhere a birds Neſt is, vvhere you fray avvay the Bird, and then ſeize upon the empty Neſt.
      • 1711 May 29 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison; Richard Steele, “FRIDAY, May 18, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 68; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume I, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, OCLC 191120697, page 415:
        Whoso casteth a stone at the birds frayeth them away; and he that upbraideth his friend, breaketh friendship.
      • a. 1717 (date written), Robert South, “Sermon VII. Romans xii. 18.”, in Five Additional Volumes of Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions. [], volume X, London: [] Charles Bathurst, [], published 1744, OCLC 1003976319, page 232:
        Hovv fares it vvith him in the court of conſcience? [] Can he fray off the vultur from his breaſt, that night and day is gnavving his heart, and vvounding it vvith ghaſtly and amazing reflexions?
      • 1825 June 22, [Walter Scott], chapter VII, in Tales of the Crusaders. [], volume II (The Betrothed), Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 5584494, page 187:
        A murrain on thy voice! it is enough to fray every hawk from the perch.
      • 1829, [Isaac Taylor], “Section I. Enthusiasm, Secular and Religious.”, in Natural History of Enthusiasm, London: Holdsworth and Ball, OCLC 5048330, page 4:
        [T]he many checks and reverses which belong to the common course of human life fray it away from present scenes, and either send it back in pensive recollections of past pleasures, or forwards in anticipation of a bright futurity.
    3. (by extension)
      1. To assail or attack (someone or something); to drive (someone or something) away by attacking.
      2. To chase (someone or something) away; to disperse.
        • 1583, Bartimeus Andreas [i.e., Bartimaeus Andrewes], “Canticles. 6.”, in Certaine Verie Worthie, Godly and Profitable Sermons, upon the Fifth Chapiter of the Songs of Solomon: [], London: [] Robert Waldegraue, for Thomas Man, OCLC 1126459722, page 35:
          And this is it, that frayeth men from Chriſt, becauſe they are loath to vunder go his burthen and yoke, to caſt of the world, & leuing thẽſeluen behind thẽ to follow Chriſt.
        • 1635, Fra[ncis] Quarles, “Canto XIV. Psal[m] XIII. III.”, in Emblemes, London: [] G[eorge] M[iller] and sold at at Iohn Marriots shope [], OCLC 1161712157, book I, stanza 2, page 57:
          Svveet Phoſpher bring the day, / Thy light vvill fray / Theſe horrid Miſts; []
  2. (intransitive)
    1. To be afraid or frightened; to fear.
    2. To make an assault or attack; also, to create a disturbance; to brawl, to fight.
      • 1657, Jam. Howel [i.e., James Howell], “Of the Twenty Sixth, or the Last Ward of the City of London, Called the Bridge-ward Without, Containing the Bourough of Southwark”, in Londinopolis; an Historicall Discourse or Perlustration of the City of London, the Imperial Chamber, and Chief Emporium of Great Britain: [], London: [] J[ohn] Streater, for Henry Twiford, George Sawbridge, Thomas Dring, and John Place, [], OCLC 1227542811, page 337:
        Then next is the Clinke, a Goale or Priſon for the Treſpaſſers in thoſe parts, namely, in old time for ſuch as ſhould brabble, fray, or break the peace on the ſaid Bank, or in the Brothel Houſes; []
Conjugation[edit]
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Late Middle English frai (an assault, attack; a brawl, fight; disturbance, uproar; fine for assault or breach of the peace),[8] an aphetic variant of affrai, effrai (an assault, attack; a brawl, fight; disturbance, uproar; public disturbance, riot; dismay; fear; something frightening),[9][10] then:[11]

See further at etymology 2.

Noun[edit]

fray (countable and uncountable, plural frays)

  1. (countable) A noisy commotion, especially resulting from fighting; a brawl, a fight; also, a loud quarrel.
    Though they did not know the reason for the dispute, they did not hesitate to leap into the fray.
  2. (countable, figuratively) A heated argument; a war of words.
  3. (uncountable) Conflict, disagreement.
    • a. 1632, John Donne, “Sermon XCIX. Preached at Lincoln’s Inn. The Second Sermon on Matthew xviii. 7.”, in Henry Alford, editor, The Works of John Donne, D.D., [], volume IV, London: John W[illiam] Parker, [], published 1839, OCLC 151169612, page 306:
      It is the chafing of the lion, and the stirring of the viper, that aggravates the danger; the first blow makes the wrong, but the second makes the fray; and they that will endure no kind of abuse in state or church, are many times more dangerous than that abuse which they oppose.
    • 1676, [Matthew Hale], “Of Humility, Its Opposite Vices, Benefits, & Means to Acquire It”, in Contemplations Moral and Divine. [], London: [] William Godbid, for William Shrowsbury [], and John Leigh [], OCLC 823511306, pages 344–345:
      [W]hen the conteſt is by the proud Man againſt the humble Man, the ſtrife is quickly at an end: it is a true Proverb, It is the ſecond blovv makes the fray: the humble Man gives vvay to the vvrath and inſolence of the proud Man, and thereby ends the quarrel; for Yielding pacifieth vvrath, ſaith the VViſe Man [Ecclesiastes 10:4], []
  4. (obsolete)
    1. (countable) An assault or attack.
      Synonym: (archaic) affray
    2. (countable) A loud noise; a cacophony, a din.
    3. (except Scotland, uncountable) Fright, terror; (countable) an instance of this.
      Synonym: (obsolete) affray
      • 1699, William Dampier, “The Country of Achin Described: []”, in Voyages and Descriptions. Vol. II. [], London: [] James Knapton, [], OCLC 71352414, part I (His Voyage from Achin in Sumatra, to Tonquin, []), page 148:
        Thus that fray vvas over, and vve came aſhore again: recovered of the fright vve had been in.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 4[edit]

An aphetic variant of defray.[12]

Verb[edit]

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

  1. (transitive, obsolete, rare) To bear the expense of (something); to defray.

References[edit]

  1. ^ fraien, v.(2)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ fray, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; “fray1, v.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ fray, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.
  4. ^ fraien, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  5. ^ affraien, v.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  6. ^ fray, v.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022.
  7. ^ affray, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, June 2022.
  8. ^ frai, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  9. ^ affrai, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  10. ^ Compare “fray, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2022; “fray2, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  11. ^ affray, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “affray, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  12. ^ fray, v.3”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2021.

Further reading[edit]


Spanish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Apocope of fraile (friar).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈfɾai/, [ˈfɾai̯]

Noun[edit]

fray m (plural frayes)

  1. friar
    Synonym: fr.

Further reading[edit]