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From Middle English frouncen, from Old French froncir "to wrinkle, frown", from Frankish *hrunkja (a wrinkle), from Proto-Germanic *hrunkijō, *hrunkitō (fold, wrinkle), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to turn, bend). Akin to Old High German runza "fold, wrinkle, crease" (German Runzel "wrinkle"), Middle Dutch ronse "frown", Old Norse hrukka "wrinkle, crease" (Icelandic hrukka "wrinkle, crease, ruck"). More at ruck2.


  • IPA(key): /fɹaʊns/
    • (file)


frounce (plural frounces)

  1. A canker in the mouth of a hawk.
  2. A plait or curl.



frounce (third-person singular simple present frounces, present participle frouncing, simple past and past participle frounced)

  1. (rare, transitive, intransitive) To curl.
    • 1879, Harmon Seeley Babcock, "The Peanut Man", in Trifles, Providence Press Company (1879), page 43:
      Beard untrimmed by barber's shears,
      Hair all frouncing 'bout his ears,
    • 1887, Julian Corbett, For God and Gold, Macmillan and Co (1887), page 214:
      As though to give him a warlike note, his clothes were thrown on in a slovenly way, and his moustache frounced out so shock and bristling that it seemed from each hair-end a crackling oath must start with every word he said.
    • 1888, Charles M. Doughty, Travels in Arabia Deserta, Volume 1, Cambridge (1888), page 498:
      Under the day-long beating of the sun their brow is frounced out, []
    • 1983, Carolly Erickson, The First Elizabeth, St. Martin's Griffin (1997), →ISBN, page 307:
      The unruly, shoulder-length hair of the redeemed made a strong contrast to the well-tended coiffures of fashionable men, who "frounced their hair with curling irons" and wore long "love locks" tied with ribbons or silk favors.
    • 2012, Carolyn Meyer, The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots, Harcourt (2012), →ISBN, page 107:
      My hairdresser stopped coming. Fortunately, my friend Seton had always enjoyed frouncing my hair, and she readily took up the responsibility, fixing my hair in a different style every day.
  2. (rare) To crease, wrinkle, to frown.
    • 1871, George Mac-Henry, Time and Eternity: A Poem, A L Bancroft and Company (1871), page 42:
      He frounced his brow, and from his scornful eye
      Shot wrath indignant, and disdain and pride,
    • 1885, "The Old Corner Shop: A Story of Very Poor Humanity", The Phrenological Magazine, December 1885:
      Mury, however, frounced her brows, and made Sir Tyke Winchap's niece a profound courtesy behind her back.
    • 2000, Patrick Madden, "Down on Batlle's Farm", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Volume 33, Number 2, Summer 2000, page 160:
      "But they know who you are?" I asked, and frounced my brow in skeptical doubt.
  3. To gather into or adorn with plaits, as a dress.