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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
First recorded in 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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for fretful
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Not of age—merely of time; for here was no senility, no quavering or fretful lines.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • An' Josh he got kind o' fretful to her, an' she to him, an' 'Mandy was all honey an' cream.

    Meadow Grass Alice Brown
  • 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
  • "Go on, please," said Kate in a fretful whisper, and she tugged at Pete's sleeve.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • The women moistened its lips with barley-water, and hushed its fretful whimper.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • Sometimes she was fretful and peevish, and sometimes hopelessly dejected and sad.

    Queen Elizabeth Jacob Abbott
  • They were not downhearted, nor anxious, nor fretful for all this; far from it.

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
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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