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A frowning man in Albrecht Dürer's painting Bildnis eines unbekannten Mannes (1521)


  • IPA(key): /fɹaʊn/
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -aʊn

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English frown, froun (a threatening appearance; lowering of the clouds), from frounen (to frown). See below.


frown (plural frowns)

  1. A wrinkling of the forehead with the eyebrows brought together, typically indicating displeasure, severity, or concentration.
    • 1860, George Eliot, “V: Maggie's Second Visit”, in The Mill on the Floss[1], Volume I Book II, Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood, page 336‑337:
      Philip had once told him of a man who had a horse-shoe frown, and Tom had tried with all his frowning-might to make a horse-shoe on his forehead
    • 1873, Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals[2], page 223:
      He encounters some obstacle in his train of reasoning ... and then a frown passes like a shadow over his brow.
  2. (Canada, US) A downturn of the corners of the mouth, typically expressing sadness.
    • 1911 December, “Facial Expression Electric Sign”, in Popular Electricity[3], volume iv, number 8, Chicago, page 714:
      The smile and the frown are both indicated and the operation of a motor driven flasher causes the face to look happy and sad in turn.
    • 1931, “Turn That Frown Upside Down, Smile at the Cock-eyed World”, Joe Young (lyrics), Sam Stept (music):
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English frounen (to frown as an expression of disapproval, displeasure, shame, fear, or jealousy), from Old French frognier (to frown or scowl), from Gaulish *frognā (nostril), from Proto-Celtic *srognā.


frown (third-person singular simple present frowns, present participle frowning, simple past and past participle frowned)

  1. (intransitive) To have a frown on one's face.
    She frowned when I told her the news.
  2. (intransitive, figurative) To manifest displeasure or disapprobation; to look with disfavour or threateningly.
    Noisy gossip in the library is frowned upon.
  3. (transitive) To repress or repel by expressing displeasure or disapproval; to rebuke with a look.
    Let us frown the impudent fellow into silence.
  4. (transitive) To communicate by frowning.
    Frank frowned his displeasure with my proposal.
    • 2017 June 26, Alexis Petridis, “Glastonbury 2017 verdict: Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Lorde, Stormzy and more”, in the Guardian[4]:
      As the band paused between songs, a gust of wind blew a distinctive Worthy Farm odour in the direction of drummer/vocalist Julien Ehrich: “Wow,” he frowned, “this place smells of cow shit.”
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.




  1. Soft mutation of brown.


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
brown frown mrown unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.