• synonyms


  1. a trimming, as a strip of cloth or lace, gathered at one edge and left loose at the other; ruffle.
  2. something resembling such a trimming, as the fringe of hair on the chest of some dogs.
  3. affectation of manner, style, etc.
  4. something superfluous.
  5. Photography. wrinkling or loosening of an emulsion at the edges, usually due to excessively high temperature during developing.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to trim or ornament with a frill or frills.
  2. to form into a frill.
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verb (used without object)
  1. Photography. (of an emulsion) to become wrinkled or loose.
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Origin of frill

First recorded in 1585–95; origin uncertain
Related formsfrill·er, nounun·frill, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for frills

frippery, gathering, flounce, ruffle, lace, garbage, tuck, jazz, extravagance, amenity, decoration, thing, superfluity, doodad, gimcrack, garnish, fuss, gingerbread, fandangle, foppery

Examples from the Web for frills

Contemporary Examples of frills

Historical Examples of frills

  • Kate shuddered too, and drew the frills closer about her throat.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

  • Frills are generally attached to them, and give them a pretty finish.

  • How'll seventy-five a week, with costumes of frills and powdered hair, do you?

    Blue-grass and Broadway

    Maria Thompson Daviess

  • She laughed again, and shook all her pretty ribbons and frills.

    Three Margarets

    Laura E. Richards

  • Bettina, bending over her frills, felt a sudden sense of desolation.

    Glory of Youth

    Temple Bailey

British Dictionary definitions for frills


  1. a gathered, ruched, or pleated strip of cloth sewn on at one edge only, as on garments, as ornament, or to give extra body
  2. a ruff of hair or feathers around the neck of a dog or bird or a fold of skin around the neck of a reptile or amphibian
  3. (often capital) a variety of domestic fancy pigeon having a ruff of curled feathers on the chest and cropFull name: oriental frill
  4. photog a wrinkling or loosening of the emulsion at the edges of a negative or print
  5. (often plural) informal a superfluous or pretentious thing or manner; affectationhe made a plain speech with no frills
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  1. (tr) to adorn or fit with a frill or frills
  2. to form into a frill or frills
  3. (intr) photog (of an emulsion) to develop a frill
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Derived Formsfrilliness, nounfrilly, adjective

Word Origin for frill

C14: perhaps of Flemish origin
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 frills


"mere embellishments," 1893, often in negative constructions; earlier "affectation of dress or manner" (1845); see frill.

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"wavy ornamental edging," 1801 (with a doubtful attestation from 1590s), of uncertain origin despite much speculation [see OED]; figurative sense of "useless ornament" first recorded 1893. The verb meaning "to furnish with a frill" is recorded in 1570s. Related: Frilled.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper