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[uh-frey] /əˈfreɪ/
a public fight; a noisy quarrel; brawl.
Law. the fighting of two or more persons in a public place.
verb (used with object)
Archaic. to frighten.
Origin of affray
1275-1325; Middle English < Anglo-French afray (noun), afrayer (v.), Old French esfrei (noun), esfreer (v.) < Vulgar Latin *exfridāre to break the peace, equivalent to ex- ex-1 + -frid- peace (< Germanic; compare German Friede) + -āre infinitive suffix
1. row, fracas, altercation, melee. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for affray
Historical Examples
  • She dragged the girl away out of sight, and left her while she returned to the affray.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • The affray had burst over the slumbering town like a thunderclap.

  • Many Indians were killed or wounded in this affray, but it is not known how many.

    King Philip

    John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott
  • That we had some hurt of such an affray goes without saying.

    The House Under the Sea

    Sir Max Pemberton
  • Hanson had learned all about the affray, as everyone else in town seemed to have done.

  • And then there was their own resentment as to that affray at Scumberg's.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • Who struck the first blow in the affray on the pier with Thornton?

    Breaking Away Oliver Optic
  • This was by no means a terrifying conclusion to men inured to affray.

    Laramie Holds the Range

    Frank H. Spearman
  • But in many a tent there were drinking and gambling, and more than one affray.

    A Little Girl in Old Quebec Amanda Millie Douglas
  • A white man and a colored woman were indicted for an affray.

British Dictionary definitions for affray


(law) a fight, noisy quarrel, or disturbance between two or more persons in a public place
(transitive) (archaic) to frighten
Word Origin
C14: via Old French from Vulgar Latin exfridāre (unattested) to break the peace; compare German Friede peace
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 affray

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.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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