state; condition: in fine fettle.

verb (used with object), fet·tled, fet·tling.

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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for fettle

shape, order, condition

Examples from the Web for fettle

Historical Examples of fettle

  • 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.

  • 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 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

British Dictionary definitions for fettle


verb (tr)

to remove (excess moulding material and casting irregularities) from a cast component
to line or repair (the walls of a furnace)
British 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 for fettle

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

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

fettle in Medicine




Proper or sound condition.
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.