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From Middle English frenge, from Old French frenge, from Vulgar Latin *frimbia, a metathesis of Latin fimbriae (fibers, threads, fringe, plural), of uncertain origin. Compare German Franse and Danish frynse. Eclipsed native Middle English fnæd (fringe), Middle English byrd (fringe), Middle English fasel (fringe) from Old English fæs (fringe), and Old English fnæs (fringe). Doublet of fimbria.



fringe (plural fringes)

  1. A decorative border.
    the fringe of a picture
  2. A marginal or peripheral part.
    • 1651–1653, Jer[emy] Taylor, ΕΝΙΑΥΤΟΣ [Eniautos]. A Course of Sermons for All the Sundays of the Year. [], 2nd edition, London: [] Richard Royston [], published 1655, →OCLC:
      the confines of grace and the fringes of repentance
    • 2011 September 29, Jon Smith, “Tottenham 3 - 1 Shamrock Rovers”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Dos Santos, who has often been on the fringes at Spurs since moving from Barcelona, whipped in a fantastic cross that Pavlyuchenko emphatically headed home for his first goal of the season.
  3. Those members of a political party, or any social group, holding unorthodox views.
  4. The periphery of a town or city (or other area).
    He lives on the fringe of London.
    • 1961 October, ""Voyageur"", “The Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith Railway”, in Trains Illustrated, page 598:
      Moreover, although a number of lines penetrate to the fringes of the English Lake District, this is the only one which actually passes through it.
  5. (UK) Synonym of bangs: hair hanging over the forehead, especially a hairstyle where it is cut straight across.
    Her fringe is so long it covers her eyes.
    • 1915, W[illiam] Somerset Maugham, “Chapter LXXXVIII”, in Of Human Bondage, New York, N.Y.: George H[enry] Doran Company, →OCLC:
      In a few minutes Mrs. Athelny appeared. She had taken her hair out of the curling pins and now wore an elaborate fringe.
    • 1981, Hilda Doolittle, HERmione[2], page 155:
      Fayne in the photograph had a fringe, hair frizzed over hidden ears, sleeves over-ornate, the whole thing out of keeping.
    • 2007, Lauraine Snelling, Sophie's Dilemma[3], page 16:
      Ingeborg knew she wasn′t ready for fringes or short hair like some of the women she′d seen, and she hoped her daughter wasn′t either.
      “No.” Astrid′s tone dismissed Sophie and the fringe as she galloped off to a new topic.
    • 2009, Geraldine Biddle-Perry, Sarah Cheang, Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion, page 231:
      Set against the seductive visual and textual imagery of these soft-focus fantasy worlds, the stock list details offer the reader a very real solution to achieving the look themselves, ‘Hair, including coloured fringes (obtainable from Joseph, £3.50) by Paul Nix’ (Baker 1972a: 68).
  6. (physics) A light or dark band formed by the diffraction of light.
    interference fringe
  7. Non-mainstream theatre.
    The Fringe; Edinburgh Fringe; Adelaide Fringe
  8. (botany) The peristome or fringe-like appendage of the capsules of most mosses.
  9. (golf) The area around the green
  10. (Australia) Used attributively with reference to Aboriginal people living on the edge of towns etc.
    • 2006, Alexis Wright, Carpentaria, Giramondo, published 2012, page 20:
      All the fringe people thought it was such a good house, ingenious in fact, and erected similar makeshift housing for themselves.
  11. (television, radio) A daypart that precedes or follows prime time.


  • (members of a political party, or any social group, holding unorthodox views): fringe group
  • (periphery of a town or city): outskirts

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


fringe (not comparable)

  1. Outside the mainstream.
    • 2015 September 7, Holland Cotter, “Exhibitions Where Moral Force Trumps Market Forces”, in New York Times[4]:
      So was the cellist Charlotte Moorman, muse to Nam June Paik and proactivist champion of all things fringe.




fringe (third-person singular simple present fringes, present participle fringing, simple past and past participle fringed)

  1. (transitive) To decorate with fringe.
  2. (transitive) To serve as a fringe.