c.1300, "state of alarm produced by a sudden disturbance," from Old French effrei, esfrei "disturbance, fright," from esfreer (v.) "to worry, concern, trouble, disturb," from Vulgar Latin *exfridare, literally "to take out of peace," from Latin ex- "out of" (see ex-) + Frankish *frithu "peace," from Proto-Germanic *frithuz "peace, consideration, forbearance" (cf. Old Saxon frithu, Old English friðu, Old High German fridu "peace, truce"), from PIE root *pri- "to be friendly, love" (see free (adj.)). Meaning "breach of the peace, riotous fight in public" is from late 15c. Related verb afrey (early 14c.) survives almost exclusively in its past participle, afraid (q.v.).