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[freym] /freɪm/
a border or case for enclosing a picture, mirror, etc.
a rigid structure formed of relatively slender pieces, joined so as to surround sizable empty spaces or nonstructural panels, and generally used as a major support in building or engineering works, machinery, furniture, etc.
a body, especially a human body, with reference to its size or build; physique:
He has a large frame.
a structure for admitting or enclosing something:
a window frame.
Usually, frames. (used with a plural verb) the framework for a pair of eyeglasses.
form, constitution, or structure in general; system; order.
a particular state, as of the mind:
an unhappy frame of mind.
Movies. one of the successive pictures on a strip of film.
Television. a single traversal by the electron beam of all the scanning lines on a television screen. In the U.S. this is a total of 525 lines traversed in 1/30 (0.033) second.
Compare field (def 19).
Computers. the information or image on a screen or monitor at any one time.
  1. one of the ten divisions of a game.
  2. one of the squares on the scorecard, in which the score for a given frame is recorded.
Pool. rack1 (def 3).
Baseball. an inning.
Slang. a frame-up.
enclosing lines, usually forming a square or rectangle, to set off printed matter in a newspaper, magazine, or the like; a box.
the structural unit that supports the chassis of an automobile.
  1. any of a number of transverse, riblike members for supporting and stiffening the shell of each side of a hull.
  2. any of a number of longitudinal members running between web frames to support and stiffen the shell plating of a metal hull.
a machine or part of a machine supported by a framework, especially as used in textile production:
drawing frame; spinning frame.
Printing. the workbench of a compositor, consisting of a cabinet, cupboards, bins, and drawers, and having flat and sloping work surfaces on top.
Bookbinding. an ornamental border, similar to a picture frame, stamped on the front cover of some books.
in frame, Shipbuilding. (of a hull) with all frames erected and ready for planking or plating.
verb (used with object), framed, framing.
to form or make, as by fitting and uniting parts together; construct.
to contrive, devise, or compose, as a plan, law, or poem:
to frame a new constitution.
to conceive or imagine, as an idea.
Informal. to incriminate (an innocent person) through the use of false evidence, information, etc.
to provide with or put into a frame, as a picture.
to give utterance to:
Astonished, I attempted to frame adequate words of protest.
to form or seem to form (speech) with the lips, as if enunciating carefully.
to fashion or shape:
to frame a bust from marble.
to shape or adapt to a particular purpose:
to frame a reading list for ninth graders.
Informal. to contrive or prearrange fraudulently or falsely, as in a scheme or contest.
to adjust (film) in a motion-picture projector so as to secure exact correspondence of the outlines of the frame and aperture.
to line up visually in a viewfinder or sight.
Archaic. to direct, as one's steps.
verb (used without object), framed, framing.
Archaic. to betake oneself; resort.
Archaic. to prepare, attempt, give promise, or manage to do something.
Origin of frame
before 1000; 1910-15 for def 8; 1920-25 for def 25; (v.) Middle English framen to prepare (timber), Old English framian to avail, profit; cognate with Old Norse frama to further, Old High German (gi)framōn to do; (noun) Middle English, derivative of the v.
Related forms
framable, frameable, adjective
framableness, frameableness, noun
frameless, adjective
framer, noun
deframe, verb (used with object), deframed, deframing.
misframe, verb, misframed, misframing.
reframe, verb (used with object), reframed, reframing.
subframe, noun
unframable, adjective
unframableness, noun
unframably, adverb
unframeable, adjective
unframeableness, noun
unframeably, adverb
unframed, adjective
well-framed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for frame
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The thought of her was life and death in his frame, bright heaven and the abyss.

  • He could not frame the words; it was too much to ask—he must leave it to come from her.

    The Royal Pawn of Venice Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull
  • Dr. Wardan liked the frame of the observations, disliked the substance.

  • Pearce could not frame a reply, at least, satisfactory to himself.

    The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston
  • The bracing effect of the sea air was being felt in every fibre of my frame.

    A New Sensation Albert Ross
British Dictionary definitions for frame


an open structure that gives shape and support to something, such as the transverse stiffening ribs of a ship's hull or an aircraft's fuselage or the skeletal beams and uprights of a building
an enclosing case or border into which something is fitted: the frame of a picture
the system around which something is built up: the frame of government
the structure of the human body
a condition; state (esp in the phrase frame of mind)
  1. one of a series of individual exposures on a strip of film used in making motion pictures
  2. an individual exposure on a film used in still photography
  3. an individual picture in a comic strip
  1. a television picture scanned by one or more electron beams at a particular frequency
  2. the area of the picture so formed
(billiards, snooker)
  1. the wooden triangle used to set up the balls
  2. the balls when set up
  3. a single game finished when all the balls have been potted US and Canadian equivalent (for senses 8a, 8b) rack
(computing) (on a website) a self-contained section that functions independently from other parts; by using frames, a website designer can make some areas of a website remain constant while others change according to the choices made by the internet user
short for cold frame
one of the sections of which a beehive is composed, esp one designed to hold a honeycomb
a machine or part of a machine over which yarn is stretched in the production of textiles
(in language teaching, etc) a syntactic construction with a gap in it, used for assigning words to syntactic classes by seeing which words may fill the gap
(statistics) an enumeration of a population for the purposes of sampling, esp as the basis of a stratified sample
(in telecommunications, computers, etc) one cycle of a regularly recurring number of pulses in a pulse train
(slang) another word for frame-up
(obsolete) shape; form
in the frame, likely to be awarded or to achieve: I'm in the frame for the top job
verb (mainly transitive)
to construct by fitting parts together
to draw up the plans or basic details for; outline: to frame a policy
to compose, contrive, or conceive: to frame a reply
to provide, support, or enclose with a frame: to frame a picture
to form (words) with the lips, esp silently
(slang) to conspire to incriminate (someone) on a false charge
(slang) to contrive the dishonest outcome of (a contest, match, etc); rig
(intransitive) (Yorkshire & Northeast English, dialect)
  1. (usually imperative or dependent imperative) to make an effort
  2. to have ability
Derived Forms
framable, frameable, adjective
frameless, adjective
framer, noun
Word Origin
Old English framiae to avail; related to Old Frisian framia to carry out, Old Norse frama


Janet. 1924–2004, and New Zealand writer: author of the novels Owls Do Cry (1957) and Faces in the Water (1961), the collection of verse The Pocket (1967), and volumes of autobiography including An Angel at My Table (1984), which was made into a film in 1990
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for frame

Old English framian "to profit, be helpful, avail, benefit," from fram "active, vigorous, bold," originally "going forward," from fram "forward; from" (see from).

Influenced by related Old English fremman "help forward, promote, further, do, perform, accomplish," and by Old Norse fremja "to further, execute." Sense focused in Middle English from "make ready" (mid-13c.) to "prepare timber for building" (late 14c.). Meaning "compose, devise" is first attested 1540s.

The criminal slang sense of "blame an innocent person" (1920s) is probably from earlier sense of "plot in secret" (1900), perhaps ultimately from meaning "fabricate a story with evil intent," first attested 1510s. Related: Framed; framing.


c.1200, "profit, benefit;" mid-13c. "composition, plan," from frame (v.) and from Scandinavian (cf. Old Norse frami "advancement"). In late 14c. it also meant "the rack."

Meaning "building" is from early 15c.; that of "border or case for a picture or pane of glass" is from c.1600. The meaning "established order, plan" and that of "human body" are both first recorded 1590s. Of bicycles, from 1871; of motor cars, from 1900. Frame of mind is from 1711. Frame of reference is 1897, from mechanics and graphing; the figurative sense is attested from 1924.


(of buildings), "made of wood," 1790, American English, from frame (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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frame in Medicine

frame (frām)
Something composed of parts fitted and joined together.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for frame



  1. The human body; physique; build, esp that of a woman (1600+)
  2. A heterosexual man attractive to homosexuals; hunk (1950s+ Homosexuals)
  3. A unit of a game or other contest; stanza: Mel Queen lined a single to right field to open that frame (1910+)
  4. The incrimination of an innocent person with false evidence; frame-up: just the victim of a frame (1914+)


: I was framed

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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frame in Technology

1. A data link layer "packet" which contains the header and trailer information required by the physical medium. That is, network layer packets are encapsulated to become frames.
See also datagram, encapsulation, packet, Maximum Transmission Unit.
2. (language implementation) See activation record.
3. One complete scan of the active area of a display screen. Each frame consists of a number N of horizontal scan lines, each of which, on a computer display, consists of a number M of pixels. N is the vertical resolution of the display and M is the horizontal resolution. The rate at which the displayed image is updated is the refresh rate in frames per second.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for frame


Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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