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From Middle English froward, fraward, equivalent to fro +‎ -ward. Compare Old English fromweard, framweard (turned away, having the back turned).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈfɹəʊ.(w)əd/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈfɹoʊ.ɚd/
  • (file)


froward (comparative more froward, superlative most froward)

  1. (archaic, literary) Disobedient, contrary, unmanageable; difficult to deal with; with an evil disposition.
    • 1553 (posth.), Thomas More, A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, Book I, Chapter 14:
      But in the meanwhile, for fear lest if he would wax never the better he would wax much the worse; and from gentle, smooth, sweet, and courteous, might wax angry, rough, froward, and sour, and thereupon be troublous and tedious to the world to make fair weather with; they give him fair words for the while and put him in good comfort, and let him for the rest take his own chance.
    • c. 1592, William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act I, Scene 2,[1]
      Her only fault,—and that is faults enough,—
      Is, that she is intolerable curst
      And shrewd and froward, so beyond all measure,
      That, were my state far worser than it is,
      I would not wed her for a mine of gold.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Proverbs 21:8,[2]
      The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.
    • 1625, Francis Bacon, "Of Innovation"
      All this is true, if time stood still; which contrariwise moveth so round, that a froward retention of custom, is as turbulent a thing as an innovation []
    • 1816, George Crabb, English Synonymes Explained, London: Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, p. 133,[3]
      A froward child becomes an untoward youth, who turns a deaf ear to all the admonitions of an afflicted parent.
    • 1824 June, [Walter Scott], chapter II, in Redgauntlet, [], volume II, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., OCLC 926803915, page 50:
      The old man [] began to suffer in the body as well as the mind. He had formed the determination of setting out in person for Dumfriesshire, when, after having been dogged, peevish, and snappish to his clerks and domestics, to an unusual and almost intolerable degree, the acrimonious humours settled in a hissing-hot fit of the gout, which is a well-known tamer of the most froward spirits, []
    • 1885, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night:
      So I took a great dry gourd and, cutting open the head, scooped out the inside and cleaned it; after which I gathered grapes from a vine which grew hard by and squeezed them into the gourd, till it was full of the juice. Then I stopped up the mouth and set in the sun, where I left it for some days, until it became strong wine; and every day I used to drink of it, to comfort and sustain me under my fatigues with that from froward and obstinate fiend; and as often as I drank myself drunk, I forgot my troubles and took new heart.
    • 1954, J. R. R. Tolkien, "The Two Towers":
      'I owe much to Eomer,' said Theoden. 'Faithful heart may have froward tongue.'
    • 2007, Peter Marshall, Mother Leakey and the Bishop: A Ghost Story[4], Oxford Univ. Press, →ISBN:
      … which so incensed this old hag that she grew as froward and sullen as the doctor, …


Derived terms[edit]




  1. (obsolete) Away from.
    • a. 1472, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum xvii”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book XIII, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, OCLC 71490786; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, OCLC 890162034:
      Whan Sir Galahad herde hir sey so, he was adrad to be knowyn; and therewith he smote hys horse with his sporys and rode a grete pace froward them.