disposed or quick to fret; irritable or peevish.

Also fret·some [fret-suhm] /ˈfrɛt səm/.

Origin of fretful

First recorded in 1585–95; fret1 + -ful
Related formsfret·ful·ly, adverbfret·ful·ness, nounun·fret·ful, adjectiveun·fret·ful·ly, adverb

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

Examples from the Web for fretful

Contemporary Examples of fretful

Historical Examples of fretful

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for fretful



peevish, irritable, or upset
Derived Formsfretfully, adverbfretfulness, 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

Word Origin and History for fretful

1590s, from fret (v.) + -ful. Related: Fretfully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper