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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fretwork

Historical Examples of fretwork

  • 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

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

Word Origin and History for fretwork

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper