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[frit-er] /ˈfrɪt ər/
verb (used with object)
to squander or disperse piecemeal; waste little by little (usually followed by away):
to fritter away one's money; to fritter away an afternoon.
to break or tear into small pieces or shreds.
verb (used without object)
to dwindle, shrink, degenerate, etc. (often followed by away):
to watch one's fortune fritter away.
to separate or break into fragments:
a plastic material having a tendency to fritter.
a small piece, fragment, or shred.
Origin of fritter1
1720-30; earlier fitter, derivative of fit (Old English fitt) a part
Related forms
fritterer, noun
unfrittered, adjective
1. dissipate, frivol away, idle away. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fritter away
Historical Examples
  • He must refuse to fritter away priceless time and energy in the random genialities of the world.

    Plum Pudding Christopher Morley
  • But Delancy had no time to fritter away on niceties of etiquette.

    Making People Happy Thompson Buchanan
  • You couldn't expect a person of my importance to fritter away his valuable time catching mice.

    The Tale of Miss Kitty Cat Arthur Scott Bailey
  • Shilly-shally, to trifle or fritter away time; to be irresolute.

    The Slang Dictionary John Camden Hotten
  • These lead us to take bye-paths and long turnings, and fritter away the strength that should be used in promoting a single aim.

    Willis the Pilot Johanna Spyri
  • K—— used to fritter away his time on designs for old friends.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • I repeat that you fritter away your talents and your opportunities upon this miserable task-work on a journal.

    Lucretia, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The man who is to be the father of the future dukes must not be allowed to fritter away his time in obscurity.

    Can You Forgive Her? Anthony Trollope
  • It is so much nobler to work than it is to fritter away a life doing nothing.

    A Girl of the Commune George Alfred Henty
  • Want to stay in town over night and fritter away your money and the time the government pays for.

British Dictionary definitions for fritter away


verb (transitive)
(usually foll by away) to waste or squander: to fritter away time
to break or tear into small pieces; shred
a small piece; shred
Derived Forms
fritterer, noun
Word Origin
C18: probably from obsolete fitter to break into small pieces, ultimately from Old English fitt a piece


a piece of food, such as apple or clam, that is dipped in batter and fried in deep fat
Word Origin
C14: from Old French friture, from Latin frictus fried, roasted, from frīgere to fry, parch
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 fritter away



"whittle away," 1728, from fritters "fragment or shred," possibly from a noun sense, but this is not recorded as early as the verb; perhaps an alteration of 16c. fitters "fragments or pieces," perhaps ultimately from Old French fraiture "a breaking," from Latin fractura. Or perhaps from a Germanic source (cf. Middle High German vetze "clothes, rags").


"fried batter," late 14c., from Old French friture "fritter, pancake, something fried" (12c.), from Late Latin frictura "a frying," from frigere "to roast, fry" (see fry (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for fritter away

fritter away

verb phrase

To squander and dissipate, esp little by little: These politicians are frittering away whatever credit they still possess with the public

[1728+; fr earlier sense of fritter, ''to break into small pieces'']

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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Idioms and Phrases with fritter away

fritter away

Squander or waste little by little; wear down gradually. For example, She frittered away her salary on odds and ends and saved nothing. This expression was first recorded in Alexander Pope's Dunciad (1728): “How prologues into prefaces decay, And these to notes are fritter'd quite away.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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