1 [fret]
verb (used without object), fretted, fretting.
to feel or express worry, annoyance, discontent, or the like: Fretting about the lost ring isn't going to help.
to cause corrosion; gnaw into something: acids that fret at the strongest metals.
to make a way by gnawing, corrosion, wearing away, etc.: The river frets at its banks until a new channel is formed.
to become eaten, worn, or corroded (often followed by away ): Limestone slowly frets away under pounding by the wind and rain.
to move in agitation or commotion, as water: water fretting over the stones of a brook.
verb (used with object), fretted, fretting.
to torment; irritate, annoy, or vex: You mustn't fret yourself about that.
to wear away or consume by gnawing, friction, rust, corrosives, etc.: the ocean fretting its shores.
to form or make by wearing away a substance: The river had fretted an underground passage.
to agitate (water): Strong winds were fretting the channel.
an irritated state of mind; annoyance; vexation.
erosion; corrosion; gnawing.
a worn or eroded place.

before 900; Middle English freten, Old English fretan to eat up, consume; cognate with Old Saxon fretan, Gothic fraitan, Old High German frezzan (German fressen)

fretter, noun

1. fume, rage. 6. worry, harass, goad, tease. 7. erode, gnaw, corrode, abrade, grind, rub, rust. 10. harassment, agitation, worry. Unabridged


2 [fret]
an interlaced, angular design; fretwork.
an angular design of bands within a border.
Heraldry. a charge composed of two diagonal strips interlacing with and crossing at the center of a mascle.
a piece of decoratively pierced work placed in a clock case to deaden the sound of the mechanism.
verb (used with object), fretted, fretting.
to ornament with a fret or fretwork.

1350–1400; Middle English frette < ?; compare Middle French frete trellis-work, Old English fretwian, variant of frætwian to adorn

fretless, adjective


3 [fret]
any of the ridges of wood, metal, or string, set across the fingerboard of a guitar, lute, or similar instrument, which help the fingers to stop the strings at the correct points.
verb (used with object), fretted, fretting.
to provide with frets.

1490–1500; origin uncertain

fretless, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To fretting
World English Dictionary
fret1 (frɛt)
vb , frets, fretting, fretted
1.  to distress or be distressed; worry
2.  to rub or wear away
3.  to irritate or be irritated; feel or give annoyance or vexation
4.  to eat away or be eaten away by chemical action; corrode
5.  (intr) (of a road surface) to become loose so that potholes develop; scab
6.  to agitate (water) or (of water) to be agitated
7.  (tr) to make by wearing away; erode
8.  a state of irritation or anxiety
9.  the result of fretting; corrosion
10.  a hole or channel caused by fretting
[Old English fretan to eat; related to Old High German frezzan, Gothic fraitan, Latin peredere]

fret2 (frɛt)
1.  a repetitive geometrical figure, esp one used as an ornamental border
2.  such a pattern made in relief and with numerous small openings; fretwork
3.  heraldry a charge on a shield consisting of a mascle crossed by a saltire
vb , frets, fretting, fretted
4.  (tr) to ornament with fret or fretwork
[C14: from Old French frete interlaced design used on a shield, probably of Germanic origin]

fret3 (frɛt)
any of several small metal bars set across the fingerboard of a musical instrument of the lute, guitar, or viol family at various points along its length so as to produce the desired notes when the strings are stopped by the fingers
[C16: of unknown origin]

fret4 (frɛt)
short for sea fret

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

O.E. fretan "eat, devour" (in O.E., used of monsters and Vikings; in M.E., used of animals' eating), from P.Gmc. compound *fra- "for-" + *etan "to eat" (cf. Du. vreton, O.H.G. freggan, Ger. fressen, Goth. fraitan). Figurative sense of "irritate, worry, eat one's heart out" is c.1200. Modern German still
distinguishes essen for humans and fressen for animals. Related: Fretted; fretting.

"ornamental interlaced pattern," late 14c., from O.Fr. frete "interlaced work, trellis work," probably from Frank. *fetur (cf. O.E. fetor, O.H.G. feggara "fetter") perhaps from notion of "decorative anklet," or of materials "bound" together. The other noun, "ridge on the fingerboard of a guitar," is
c.1500 of unknown origin but possibly another sense of O.Fr. frete.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

fretting fret·ting (frět'ĭng)
A hole, or worn or polished spot made on metals by abrasion or erosion.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
So he tortured himself, fretting himself with such questions, and finding a
  kind of enjoyment in it.
If not, expect some renewed fretting over their missile capabilities.
But her rants were so persuasive, her fretting so vivid, that it was not so
  easy to dismiss her.
Fretting about the job market while in graduate school is not only unhealthy
  but gets in the way of good scholarship.
Related Words
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature