What does fret mean?

Definitions for fret

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word fret.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. fret, stew, sweat, lather, swithernoun

    agitation resulting from active worry

    "don't get in a stew"; "he's in a sweat about exams"

  2. worn spot, fretnoun

    a spot that has been worn away by abrasion or erosion

  3. fret, Greek fret, Greek key, key patternnoun

    an ornamental pattern consisting of repeated vertical and horizontal lines (often in relief)

    "there was a simple fret at the top of the walls"

  4. fretverb

    a small bar of metal across the fingerboard of a musical instrument; when the string is stopped by a finger at the metal bar it will produce a note of the desired pitch

  5. fuss, niggle, fretverb

    worry unnecessarily or excessively

    "don't fuss too much over the grandchildren--they are quite big now"

  6. fretverb

    be agitated or irritated

    "don't fret over these small details"

  7. fretverb

    provide (a musical instrument) with frets

    "fret a guitar"

  8. chafe, gall, fretverb

    become or make sore by or as if by rubbing

  9. fretverb

    cause annoyance in

  10. eat into, fret, rankle, grateverb

    gnaw into; make resentful or angry

    "The injustice rankled her"; "his resentment festered"

  11. fretverb

    carve a pattern into

  12. fretverb

    decorate with an interlaced design

  13. choke, gag, fretverb

    be too tight; rub or press

    "This neckband is choking the cat"

  14. rub, fray, fret, chafe, scratchverb

    cause friction

    "my sweater scratches"

  15. erode, eat away, fretverb

    remove soil or rock

    "Rain eroded the terraces"

  16. fret, eat awayverb

    wear away or erode


  1. fretnoun

    One of the pieces of metal/wood/plastic across the neck of a guitar or other musical instrument that marks note positions for fingering.

  2. fretnoun

    An ornamental pattern consisting of repeated vertical and horizontal lines (often in relief).

  3. fretnoun

    A strait; channel.

  4. fretnoun

    A fog or mist at sea or coming inland from the sea

  5. Etymology: From freten, from fretan, from fraetanan, corresponding to. Cognate with vreten, freten, fressen, fråse, fräta, 034603420330033903440330033D, 034603420330-033903440330033D.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. FRETnoun

    Etymology: Of this word the etymology is very doubtful: some derive it from fretan, to eat; others from fretwan, to adorn; some from φϱίττο; Stephen Skinner more probably from fremo, or the French fretiller: perhaps it comes immediately from the Latin fretum.

    Euripus generally signifieth any strait, fret, or channel of the sea, running between two shores. Thomas Browne, Vulg. Errours.

    The channel of this river is white with rocks, and the surface covered with froth and bubbles; for it runs along upon the fret, and is still breaking against the stones that oppose its passage. Joseph Addison, Remarks on Italy.

    The blood in a fever, if well governed, like wine upon the fret, dischargeth itself of all heterogeneous mixtures. William Derham, Physico-Theology.

    It requireth good winding of a string before it will make any note; and in the tops of lutes, &c. the higher they go, the less distance is between the frets. Francis Bacon, Nat. History.

    The harp
    Had work, and rested not: the solemn pipe
    And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop,
    All sounds on fret by string or golden wire,
    Temper’d soft tunings, intermix’d with voice
    Choral or unison. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. vii.

    They are fitted to answer the most variable harmony: two or three pipes to all those of a church-organ, or to all the strings and frets of a lute. Nehemiah Grew, Cosmolog. Sac. b. i.

    The frets of houses, and all equal figures, please; whereas unequal figures are but deformities. Francis Bacon, Natural History.

    We take delight in a prospect well laid out, and diversified with fields and meadows, woods and rivers, in the curious fret works of rocks and grottos. Spectator, №. 414.

    Calmness is great advantage: he that lets
    Another chase, may warm him at his fire,
    Mark all his wand’rings, and enjoy his frets,
    As cunning fencers suffer heat to tire. George Herbert.

    The incred’lous Pheac, having yet
    Drank but one round, reply’d in sober fret. Nahum Tate, Juven.

    You, too weak the slightest loss to bear,
    Are on the fret of passion, boil and rage. Thomas Creech, Juven.

    Yet then did Dennis rave in furious fret;
    I never answer’d, I was not in debt. Alexander Pope, Epistle ii.

  2. To Fretverb

    Etymology: from the noun.

    You may as well forbid the mountain pines
    To wag their high tops, and to make a noise
    When they are fretted with the gusts of heav’n. William Shakespeare.

    Drop them still upon one place,
    ’Till they have fretted us a pair of graves
    Within the earth. William Shakespeare, Richard II.

    In the banks of rivers, with the washing of the water, there were divers times fretted out big pieces of gold. George Abbot.

    Before I ground the object metal on the pitch, I always ground the putty on it with the concave copper, ’till it had done making a noise; because, if the particles of the putty were not made to stick fast in the pitch, they would, by rolling up and down, grate and fret the object metal, and fill it full of little holes. Isaac Newton, Opt.

    The better part with Mary and with Ruth
    Chosen thou hast; and they that over-ween,
    And at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
    No anger find in thee, but pity and ruth. John Milton.

    It is fret inward, whether it be bare within or without. Lev. xiii. 55.

    The painful husband, plowing up his ground,
    Shall find all fret with rust, both pikes and shields,
    And empty helms under his harrow sound. George Hakewill.

    Nor did there want
    Cornice or freeze, with bossy sculptures grav’n;
    The roof was fretted gold. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. i.

    Yon grey lines,
    That fret the clouds, are messengers of day. William Shakespeare, Jul. Cæs.

    Is valiant and dejected; and, by starts,
    His fretted fortunes give him hope and fear
    Of what he has and has not. William Shakespeare, Ant. and Cleopatra.

    Because thou hast fretted me in all these things, behold I will recompense thy way upon thine head. Ezek. xvi. 43.

    Such an expectation, cries one, will never come to pass: therefore I’ll even give it up, and go and fret myself. Collier.

    Injuries from friends fret and gall more, and the memory of them is not so easily obliterated. John Arbuthnot, Hist. of John Bull.

  3. To Fretverb

    No benefits whatsoever shall ever alter or allay that diabolical rancour, that frets and ferments in some hellish breasts, but that upon all occasions it will foam out at its foul mouth in slander and invective. Robert South, Sermons.

    Th’ adjoining brook, that purls along
    The vocal grove, now fretting o’er a rock,
    Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool. James Thomson, Summ.

    Take a piece of glovers leather that is very thin, and put your gold therein, binding it close, and then hang it up: the sal armoniack will fret away, and the gold remain behind. Henry Peacham, on Drawing.

    These do but indeed scrape off the extuberances, or fret into the wood, and therefore they are very seldom used to soft wood. Joseph Moxon, Mech. Exer.

    It inflamed and swelled very much; many wheals arose, and fretted one into another with great excoriation. Richard Wiseman.

    They trouble themselves with fretting at the ignorance of such as withstand them in their opinion. Richard Hooker, b. v. s. 22.

    We are in a fretting mind at the church of Rome, and with angry disposition enter into cogitation. Richard Hooker.

    Helpless, what may it boot
    To fret for anger, or for grief to moan! Fairy Queen.

    Their wounded steeds
    Fret fetlock deep in gore, and with wild rage
    Yerk out their armed heels at their dead masters William Shakespeare, H. V.

    Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
    Who chases, who frets, or where conspirers are. William Shakespeare, Macb.

    His heart fretteth against the Lord. Prov. xix. 3.

    Hudibras fretting
    Conquest should be so long a getting,
    Drew up his force. Hudibras, b. i. cant. 2.

    He swells with wrath, he makes outrageous moan,
    He frets, he fumes, he stares, he stamps the ground. Dryd.

    How should I fret to mangle ev’ry line,
    In rev’rence to the sins of thirty-nine. Alexander Pope.


  1. Fret

    A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a stringed instrument.


  1. fret

    1) To worry or be anxious about something. 2) In music, it refers to a raised strip on the neck of a string instrument like a guitar, which is used to indicate where the string should be pressed to produce certain notes. 3) To cause corrosion, wear, or gnaw into something. 4) A recurring decorative design often used in architecture or crafts, also known as a 'Greek key' design.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Fretnoun

    see 1st Frith

  2. Fretverb

    to devour

  3. Fretverb

    to rub; to wear away by friction; to chafe; to gall; hence, to eat away; to gnaw; as, to fret cloth; to fret a piece of gold or other metal; a worm frets the plants of a ship

  4. Fretverb

    to impair; to wear away; to diminish

  5. Fretverb

    to make rough, agitate, or disturb; to cause to ripple; as, to fret the surface of water

  6. Fretverb

    to tease; to irritate; to vex

  7. Fretverb

    to be worn away; to chafe; to fray; as, a wristband frets on the edges

  8. Fretverb

    to eat in; to make way by corrosion

  9. Fretverb

    to be agitated; to be in violent commotion; to rankle; as, rancor frets in the malignant breast

  10. Fretverb

    to be vexed; to be chafed or irritated; to be angry; to utter peevish expressions

  11. Fretnoun

    the agitation of the surface of a fluid by fermentation or other cause; a rippling on the surface of water

  12. Fretnoun

    agitation of mind marked by complaint and impatience; disturbance of temper; irritation; as, he keeps his mind in a continual fret

  13. Fretnoun

    herpes; tetter

  14. Fretnoun

    the worn sides of river banks, where ores, or stones containing them, accumulate by being washed down from the hills, and thus indicate to the miners the locality of the veins

  15. Fretverb

    to ornament with raised work; to variegate; to diversify

  16. Fretnoun

    ornamental work in relief, as carving or embossing. See Fretwork

  17. Fretnoun

    an ornament consisting of smmall fillets or slats intersecting each other or bent at right angles, as in classical designs, or at obilique angles, as often in Oriental art

  18. Fretnoun

    the reticulated headdress or net, made of gold or silver wire, in which ladies in the Middle Ages confined their hair

  19. Fretnoun

    a saltire interlaced with a mascle

  20. Fretnoun

    a short piece of wire, or other material fixed across the finger board of a guitar or a similar instrument, to indicate where the finger is to be placed

  21. Fretverb

    to furnish with frets, as an instrument of music

  22. Etymology: [OE. fretten to adorn, AS. frtwan, frtwian; akin to OS. fratahn, cf. Goth. us-fratwjan to make wise, also AS. frtwe ornaments, OS. fratah adornment.]


  1. Fret

    A fret is a raised element on the neck of a stringed instrument. Frets usually extend across the full width of the neck. On most modern western fretted instruments, frets are metal strips inserted into the fingerboard. On some historical instruments and non-European instruments, frets are made of pieces of string tied around the neck. Frets divide the neck into fixed segments at intervals related to a musical framework. On instruments such as guitars, each fret represents one semitone in the standard western system where one octave is divided into twelve semitones. Fret is often used as a verb, meaning simply "to press down the string behind a fret." Fretting often refers to the frets and/or their system of placement.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Fret

    fret, v.t. to wear away by rubbing, to rub, chafe, ripple, disturb: to eat into: to vex, to irritate.—v.i. to wear away: to vex one's self: to be peevish:—pr.p. fret′ting; pa.p. fret′ted, (B.) fret.—n. agitation of the surface of a liquid: irritation: the worn side of the banks of a river.—adj. Fret′ful, peevish.—adv. Fret′fully.—n. Fret′fulness.—p.adj. Fret′ting, vexing.—n. peevishness. [A.S. fretan, to gnaw—pfx. for-, inten., and etan, to eat; Ger. fressen.]

  2. Fret

    fret, v.t. to ornament with raised work: to variegate:—pr.p. fret′ting; pa.p. fret′ted. [O. Fr. freter.]

  3. Fret

    fret, n. a piece of interlaced ornamental work: (archit.) an ornament consisting of small fillets intersecting each other at right angles: (her.) bars crossed and interlaced.—ns. Fret′-saw, a saw with a narrow blade and fine teeth, used for fret-work, scroll-work, &c.; Frette, a hoop for strengthening a cannon shrunk on its breach.—adjs. Fret′ted, Fret′ty, ornamented with frets.—n. Fret′-work, ornamental work consisting of a combination of frets, perforated work. [O. Fr. frete, trellis-work.]

  4. Fret

    fret, n. a short wire on the finger-board of a guitar or other instrument.—v.t. to furnish with frets. [Prob. same as the above.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. fret

    A narrow strait of the sea, from fretum.

Suggested Resources

  1. FRET

    What does FRET stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the FRET acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. FRET

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fret is ranked #76275 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Fret surname appeared 252 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Fret.

    74.6% or 188 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    19% or 48 total occurrences were White.
    3.9% or 10 total occurrences were Black.

How to pronounce fret?

How to say fret in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of fret in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of fret in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4

Examples of fret in a Sentence

  1. Donald Trump:

    Donald Trump is having 10,000, 12,000 people show up at rallies. A lot of these guys are having five or six people show up at their events in Iowa. There's just not a comparison, you know, the establishment can fret about it all they want, but this is the new reality.

  2. John Keats:

    O fret not after knowledge -- I have none, and yet my song comes native with the warmth. O fret not after knowledge -- I have none, and yet the Evening listens.

  3. Og Mandino:

    Build this day on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Never fret at any imperfections that you fear may impede your progress. Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts. You can fly when you decide that you can. Never consider yourself defeated again. Let the vision in your heart be in your life's blueprint. Smile!

  4. Shinsho:

    Does one really have to fret About enlightenment? No matter what road I travel, I’m going home.

  5. Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day who allows it to be invated by worry, fret and anxiety.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for fret

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"fret." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 21 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/fret>.

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    separate or cut with a tool, such as a sharp instrument
    • A. abhor
    • B. cleave
    • C. famish
    • D. abide

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