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[fret-fuh l] /ˈfrɛt fəl/
disposed or quick to fret; irritable or peevish.
Also, fretsome
[fret-suh m] /ˈfrɛt səm/ (Show IPA)
Origin of fretful
1585-95; fret1 + -ful
Related forms
fretfully, adverb
fretfulness, noun
unfretful, adjective
unfretfully, adverb
petulant, querulous, impatient, testy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fretful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On a sofa in the room lay Albert Tamlyn; a lad of sixteen with a fretful countenance and rumpled hair.

    Johnny Ludlow, Third Series Mrs. Henry Wood
  • An' Josh he got kind o' fretful to her, an' she to him, an' 'Mandy was all honey an' cream.

    Meadow Grass Alice Brown
  • From beneath that same blanket came the gentle and fretful moanings of the old cripple.

    The Laughing Cavalier Baroness Orczy
  • But she hardly ever looked in his direction, and when she spoke to him it was in a cold or fretful voice.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • But all was vain and troubled and misty in my mind, and love—or its fretful changeling—weighed on my heart heavily.

    The Little Red Foot Robert W. Chambers
  • Sometimes she was fretful and peevish, and sometimes hopelessly dejected and sad.

    Queen Elizabeth Jacob Abbott
  • They were inclined to be fretful, but he gave them no chance to gain the mastery.

    Dave Porter in the Far North Edward Stratemeyer
British Dictionary definitions for fretful


peevish, irritable, or upset
Derived Forms
fretfully, adverb
fretfulness, noun
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 fretful

1590s, from fret (v.) + -ful. Related: Fretfully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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