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verb (used without object)
  1. to contract the brow, as in displeasure or deep thought; scowl.
  2. to look displeased; have an angry look.
  3. to view with disapproval; look disapprovingly (usually followed by on or upon): to frown upon a scheme.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to express by a frown: to frown one's displeasure.
  2. to force or shame with a disapproving frown: to frown someone into silence.
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  1. a frowning look; scowl.
  2. any expression or show of disapproval: a tax bill that received Congressional frowns.
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Origin of frown

1350–1400; Middle English frounen < Old French froignier, derivative of froigne surly expression, probably < Gaulish *frognā; compare Welsh ffroen, Old Breton fron nostril, Old Irish srón nose < Celtic *srognā or *sroknā
Related formsfrown·er, nounfrown·ing·ly, adverbhalf-frown·ing, adjectivehalf-frown·ing·ly, adverbun·frown·ing, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


British Dictionary definitions for frown on


  1. (intr) to draw the brows together and wrinkle the forehead, esp in worry, anger, or concentration
  2. (intr; foll by on or upon) to have a dislike (of); look disapprovingly (upon)the club frowned upon political activity by its members
  3. (tr) to express (worry, etc) by frowning
  4. (tr often foll by down) to force, silence, etc, by a frowning look
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  1. the act of frowning
  2. a show of dislike or displeasure
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Derived Formsfrowner, nounfrowningly, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Old French froigner, of Celtic origin; compare Welsh ffroen nostril, Middle Breton froan
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 frown on



late 14c., from Old French frognier "to frown or scowl, snort, turn one's nose up," related to froigne "scowling look," probably from Gaulish *frogna "nostril" (cf. Welsh ffroen "nose"), with a sense of "snort," or perhaps "haughty grimace." Related: Frowned; frowning.

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1580s, from frown (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with frown on

frown on

Regard with disapproval or distaste, as in Pat frowns on bad language. this idiom transfers the disapproving facial expression to the thought it expresses. [Late 1500s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.