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From French friperie, from Old French fripier (to rub up and down, to wear into rags). Compare fripper.


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɹɪpəɹi/
  • (file)


frippery (countable and uncountable, plural fripperies)

  1. Ostentation, as in fancy clothing.
    • 1871, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter I, in Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, volume I, Edinburgh; London: William Blackwood and Sons, OCLC 948783829, book I (Miss Brooke):
      Young women of such birth, living in a quiet country-house, and attending a village church hardly larger than a parlor, naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a huckster’s daughter.
    • 1999 July 21, Jonathan Jones, “Grey and grimy alternative to frippery that bespeaks loyalty to welfare state Britain”, in The Guardian[1]:
      Well, we were probably never going to mistake Gordon Brown for a rococo dandy. Out go Thomas Gainsborough and George Romney with all their 18th century frills and fripperies, like aristocrats deported on the tumbril.
    • 2001 September 18, Audrey Gillan, “London Fashion Week opens”, in The Guardian[2]:
      The frippery-filled world of fashion confounded its critics yesterday when it became sombre and serious in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US.
  2. Useless things; trifles.
  3. (obsolete) Cast-off clothes.
  4. (obsolete) The trade or traffic in old clothes.
  5. (obsolete) The place where old clothes are sold.
  6. Hence: secondhand finery; cheap and tawdry decoration; affected elegance.



  • 1897 Universal Dictionary of the English Language, Robert Hunter and Charles Morris, eds., v 2 p 2213. [for entries 2, 3, 4, & 5]: Frippery (Page: 597)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for “frippery” in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)