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

Synonyms for affray Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for affray

Historical Examples of affray

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for affray



law a fight, noisy quarrel, or disturbance between two or more persons in a public place


(tr) archaic to frighten

Word Origin for affray

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

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