Origin of fray1
historical usage of fray
This fray was borrowed into English from an Anglo-French word with the various meanings “to disturb,” “to attack,” and also “to frighten.” The past participle of this same word ( affrayed, meaning “alarmed”) became, in English, afraid.
While nowadays frays are things that people willingly “enter” or “join” or even “throw themselves into,” early in its history the fear aspect dominated. And so, in the 1300s, one could speak of frayes and dredes (fears and dreads) and in the 1500s, one might find a fray-boggard (fear-goblin) in the garden, a frightening specter better known to us as a scarecrow.
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH frayfrays , phrase
Other definitions for fray (2 of 2)
Origin of fray2
historical usage of fray
This fray is closely related to the word friction, as both have as a common ancestor the Latin fricāre, meaning “to rub.” It makes sense—given enough friction, things will begin to fray. But language isn’t always so neat. One early sense of fray that existed in the 1400s, but which has since fallen out of use, meant “to bruise” (as in, with our strokes we shall fray him ). In a translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses dating from the 1500s, this very same sense in a different context is used to mean “deflower” (deprive of virginity). Can we connect the dots from rub to bruise to deflower? Therein lies the rub.
OTHER WORDS FROM frayfrayed, adjective
How to use fray in a sentence
Now, the UK is joining the fray, with ambitious plans for a post-Brexit “Global Britain” that has stronger ties to the Indo-Pacific, where many of its former colonies reside.Post-Brexit Britain has its sights on Asia—if it can get over Europe first|Annabelle Timsit|January 14, 2021|Quartz
However, it’s still an opportunity to assert your brand and highlight what you’re doing to alleviate those currently suffering — a far cry from simply seeking to stay out of the fray.Halting campaigns shouldn’t be your only brand safety precaution|George Nguyen|January 8, 2021|Search Engine Land
The rumble of hundreds crowding the steps of the Capitol could be heard blocks away as just as many demonstrators joined the fray as walked away from it.Woman dies after shooting in U.S. Capitol; D.C. National Guard activated after mob breaches building|Washington Post Staff|January 7, 2021|Washington Post
Though the last four years were often tumultuous and destructive to our nation’s public lands, there was one piece of bipartisan legislation that stood out among the fray.Every Day that the National Parks Are Free in 2021|Emily Pennington|December 30, 2020|Outside Online
I moved into the fray and shook hands with Ricky Steamboat and Corporal Kirchner.Your Dad Ever Get His Ass Kicked by a Pro Wrestler?|Eugene Robinson|December 18, 2020|Ozy
Your brother smoked a joint before dinner to calm his fraying nerves.
Lebanon is fraying at the edges, but for now the center holds.Beirut Letter: In Lebanon, Fighting ISIS With Culture and Satire|Kim Ghattas|September 22, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Peterson is wearing a crisp white-and-blue striped shirt and fraying paisley ascot.Gosta Peterson's Bohemian Rhapsody: Unpacking a Photographer's '60s Secrets|Lizzie Crocker|September 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Both a social worker and his parents warned the authorities about his fraying mental state.How the Gun Nuts Try to Excuse Away the Santa Barbara Slaughter—and Why They’re All Wrong|Cliff Schecter|May 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Some of the breakdown is cultural--a fraying of the basic ties that keep people connected and cared for.
Control cables have a way of wearing out and fraying wherever they pass round pulleys.The Aeroplane Speaks|H. Barber
In wet weather it is absolutely necessary to turn up the bottoms of your trousers, to keep them from fraying.The Complete Bachelor|Walter Germain
The cord used should be of the best hemp, specially made with only two strands of very long fibres to facilitate fraying out.Bookbinding, and the Care of Books|Douglas Cockerell
Top Sergeant Mahans patience stopped fraying, and ripped from end to end.Short Stories of the New America|Various
By the fraying-post the huntsman used to be able to judge if the stag he wished to harbour was a warrantable stag or not.The Master of Game|Second Duke of York, Edward
British Dictionary definitions for fray (1 of 2)
Word Origin for fray
British Dictionary definitions for fray (2 of 2)
Word Origin for fray
Other Idioms and Phrases with fray
see enter the lists (fray).