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[fet-l] /ˈfɛt l/
state; condition:
in fine fettle.
verb (used with object), fettled, fettling.
Ceramics. to remove mold marks from (a cast piece).
  1. to remove sand from (a casting).
  2. to repair the hearth of (an open-hearth furnace).
Origin of fettle
1300-50; Middle English fetle to shape, prepare, back formation from fetled, Old English *fetelede girded up, equivalent to fetel belt + -ede -ed2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fettle
Historical Examples
  • And they will keep in this fettle until they get off the Horn.

  • The gunners and swabbers were putting their cannon in fettle below decks.

    The Black Buccaneer Stephen W. Meader
  • "Faith, an' it's my mither's ain son that could fettle that," said the curate.

    The Men of the Moss-Hags S. R. Crockett
  • With them gals to hender us we ain't a-going to be in no fettle for a skimper-scamper race with a fresh wheen o' the redskins.

    The Master of Appleby

    Francis Lynde
  • The meetings were only memorable when Tammas Haggart was in fettle, to pronounce judgments in his well-known sarcastic way.

    A Window in Thrums

    J. M. Barrie
  • That's a match some old cats would lap tea all night to fettle up.'

    A Diversity of Creatures

    Rudyard Kipling
  • One branch of my duty is to fettle your horse; and in Flamborough they fettle them on stale fish.

    Mary Anerley R. D. Blackmore
  • Theer's gude years ahead o' yon dogs, but I've na mind to gi' 'em the wark they need to keep 'em in fettle.

    Connie Morgan in Alaska James B. Hendryx
  • These were nebulous questions, but I was in fettle for anything; boat-stealing was a bagatelle.

    The Riddle of the Sands Erskine Childers
  • Being across the Umganie with Monyosi and his dog one day in search of buck, I found the elephants in very bad “fettle.”

British Dictionary definitions for fettle


verb (transitive)
to remove (excess moulding material and casting irregularities) from a cast component
to line or repair (the walls of a furnace)
(Brit, dialect)
  1. to prepare or arrange (a thing, oneself, etc), esp to put a finishing touch to
  2. to repair or mend (something)
state of health, spirits, etc (esp in the phrase in fine fettle)
another name for fettling
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: to put in order): back formation from fetled girded up, from Old English fetel belt
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 fettle

"condition, state, trim," c.1750, Lancashire dialect, from fettle (v.) "to make ready, arrange" (14c.), perhaps from Old English fetel "a girdle, belt," from Proto-Germanic *fatiloz (cf. German fessel "fetter, chain," Old Norse fetill "strap, brace"), from *fat- "to hold."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fettle in Medicine

fettle fet·tle (fět'l)

  1. Proper or sound condition.

  2. Mental or emotional state; spirits.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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