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[fret-wurk] /ˈfrɛtˌwɜrk/
ornamental work consisting of interlacing parts, especially work in which the design is formed by perforation.
any pattern of dark and light, such as that of perforated fretwork.
Origin of fretwork
First recorded in 1595-1605; fret2 + work Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for fretwork
Historical Examples
  • No. 12, fretwork and carpentry class; games; letter writing.

  • No passion of fretwork, or pinnacle whatever, I said, is in this Pisan pulpit.

    Val d'Arno John Ruskin
  • Soon even this fretwork was gone, and there was no sign of it to be seen.

    Among the Forces

    Henry White Warren
  • Mother is going to give me a set of fretwork tools so that I can put fancy tops to my frames, etc.

    Toy-Making in School and Home

    Ruby Kathleen Polkinghorne and Mabel Irene Rutherford Polkinghorne
  • Chippendale snatched his fretwork in his brackets and the angles of his chairs from the Chinese worker in ebony.

    Chats on Old Clocks Arthur Hayden
  • I turned, and scarlet through the festoons of gleaming white glowed the fretwork of a pagoda.

    A Journal from Japan

    Marie Carmichael Stopes
  • The Salak's fretwork crater stood out entirely clear—his form a purple background to the picture gradually unfolding itself.

    Across the Equator Thomas H. Reid
  • It contained a fretwork basket, stained brown and still rather sticky with varnish.

  • They positively ran wild on "Chinese taste," their fretwork and combination of Chinese and Gothic being perfectly extravagant.

    The Old Furniture Book N. Hudson Moore
  • Chippendale, in his book, gives very elaborate directions for preparing the wood from which this fretwork carving was to be made.

    The Old Furniture Book N. Hudson Moore
British Dictionary definitions for fretwork


decorative geometrical carving or openwork
any similar pattern of light and dark
ornamental work of three-dimensional frets
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 fretwork

also fret-work, c.1600, from fret (n.) + work (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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