Main definitions of fray in English

: fray1fray2

fray1

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • 1 (of a fabric, rope, or cord) unravel or become worn at the edge, typically through constant rubbing.

    ‘cheap fabric soon frays’
    ‘the frayed collar of her old coat’
    • ‘The cheap, no-frills fix is to simply melt the end of the frayed shoelace with the lighter.’
    • ‘Trevelyan himself was present, bent with age, his musty gown fraying at the edges - emblematic, I remember thinking, of an old order passing.’
    • ‘Moreover, overlocking seams and hemming garments are not necessary because the fabric doesn't fray.’
    • ‘First thing that shocks is the decor - everything looks really dated - the sofas seem to be fraying at the edges and the wooden dancefloor is in a poor condition.’
    • ‘He had a long black coat that trailed the floor slightly, the edges torn and frayed, obviously often used.’
    • ‘That much was true, but I'd overlooked just how much of the fabric has frayed or worn a little bit, exposing the pure-white threads underneath the blue.’
    • ‘At intervals of around 2 inches there is fraying all along the edges of the collar and sleeves.’
    • ‘This is a fabric which frays badly and the best way to finish it is to encase those edges within the seams.’
    • ‘The moist tawny plumpness of the peaches, dabbled with thick but scratched crimson so that they look like frayed velvet, is further accentuated by the hard cracked shells of the walnuts alongside them on the tablecloth.’
    • ‘‘Cheap’ thread will fray, break and cause knotting of the thread while sewing.’
    • ‘Irate motorists who haven't read the highway code I can deal with, being scruffy because my jacket is already fraying at the edges is another matter.’
    • ‘The hallway was a drab grey and the worn carpet was fraying.’
    • ‘Ribbons fray over time, and they have to be replaced.’
    • ‘At his feet was a strip of dirt colored cloth, frayed at the edges.’
    • ‘The girl quickly tucked the blue ends of her hair into her black fraying sweater, concealing them from sight, and jogged up the steps to the church building.’
    • ‘The cloth had frayed at the edges; the tassels had unraveled.’
    • ‘Often the chimps modified the fishing probe, pulling it through their teeth to fray the end like a paintbrush.’
    • ‘The paper was thin and the edges were beginning to fray from age.’
    • ‘This fabric doesn't fray, comes in a wide array of patterns and solids, and does not need to be hemmed or sewn!’
    • ‘Underground cables become frayed from aging, corrosive chemicals, overload or rats biting them.’
    unravel, wear, wear thin, wear out, wear away, wear through, become worn, become threadbare, become tattered, become ragged, go into holes, go through
    unravelling, unravelled, worn, well worn, threadbare, tattered, ragged, holey, moth-eaten, shabby
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a person's nerves or temper) show the effects of strain.
      • ‘Working eight-hour days, it has been hard for the cast to stay focused and nerves do occasionally fray.’
      • ‘What with that and the Cajun music my nerves are beginning to fray somewhat.’
      • ‘Despite this I was full of restless energy, and my nerves were fraying.’
      • ‘She wrote a few days ago that she considered quitting her job as a columnist after six months because her nerves got frayed.’
      • ‘Having a baby is a joyful but potentially stressful time as mothers and fathers have less sleep than usual and nerves can become frayed.’
      • ‘And as nerves fray and tempers rise you can be assured of a catty remark or backstage rumpus.’
      • ‘With nerves frayed and frustration pent up, we are at the edge.’
      • ‘Already kept waiting for more then two hours, his temper was fraying.’
      • ‘The cottonwoods shimmered, the dirt turned gold, but back at camp that night, everyone's nerves frayed from a long day on the rock, emotions ran high.’
      • ‘Cyclists, horse carts, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and loaded lorries all jostled for their bit of space while horns blared and tempers got increasingly frayed.’
      • ‘Nerves are beginning to fray as the match reaches a tense climax.’
      • ‘After a weekend of each other's company, nerves had become frayed.’
      • ‘And he warns that people need to take steps to avoid long term mental health problems caused by seasonal frazzled nerves, frayed tempers, and over-indulgence.’
      • ‘School plays and concerts were great occasions, when nerves became frayed in the run-up to the big night.’
      • ‘Tempers are fraying rapidly, while frustration grows at the Government's handling of the outbreak.’
      • ‘As we draw closer and closer to the time of departure the days grow more hectic and my nerves more frayed.’
      • ‘Malhavoc puffed his cigarette quickly, his nerves frayed.’
      • ‘But as Christmas approaches and everybody's temper gets frayed, it is the low-level aggression that wears staff down.’
      • ‘It was getting louder… her head was ringing - her nerves were fraying - everything was stretching, threatening to snap.’
      • ‘The call came at a meeting of police and villagers, during which tempers frayed as residents complained of a lack of police presence and support.’
      strained, taxed, overtaxed, irritated, edgy, tense, stressed, fraught
      strain, tax, overtax, irritate, put on edge, make edgy, make tense
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    2. 1.2[with object] (of a male deer) rub (a bush or small tree) with the head in order to remove the velvet from newly formed antlers, or to mark territory during the rut.

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French freiier, from Latin fricare to rub.

Pronunciation

fray

/frā/

Main definitions of fray in English

: fray1fray2

fray2

noun

the fray
  • 1A situation of intense activity, typically one incorporating an element of aggression or competition.

    ‘nineteen companies intend to bid for the contract, with three more expected to enter the fray’
    • ‘I can't wait to enter the fray again, to challenge ignorance, to mock hypocrisy, to defeat a lie.’
    • ‘There are also rumours that a financial bidder could enter the fray and then sell stores to the supermarket giant, which was very disappointed not be cleared.’
    • ‘Second, will another, more appealing bidder enter the fray?’
    • ‘As the game progressed I was itching to get a run and with eight minutes to go, I got the nod to enter the fray.’
    • ‘That Aberdeen game saw him enter the fray as a first-half substitute, only to suffer the indignity of being hooked later in the game.’
    • ‘To enter the fray, you need to know the business and have pretty thick skin.’
    • ‘Although it feels like it has been going on for decades, alas, it's still a necessary discussion, and I've been meaning to enter the fray.’
    • ‘I believe he has achieved that - but the big American chemists could still enter the fray.’
    • ‘Overall domestic market share is down and it's recently been falling in the light truck sector, as new foreign competitors enter the fray.’
    • ‘The second round saw some of the stronger teams from last year's competition enter the fray, and some of the first round qualifiers stepped up their game yet further under the afternoon sun.’
    • ‘The deal has set the hares running in the industry and some investors are betting a rival suitor, possibly from the US, will enter the fray with a higher offer.’
    • ‘But the fact that she's still willing to enter the fray is in itself a tribute to her survival skills.’
    • ‘And later we'll also investigate another energy option keen to enter the fray: geothermal power.’
    • ‘But to do that, they would have to want to enter the fray, starting from the bottom and working their way up the pecking order at rock festivals.’
    • ‘What is really necessary is to curb the number of independent candidates who enter the fray, to no useful purpose.’
    • ‘It is possible other bidders could enter the fray, if the take-out price is seen as too low.’
    • ‘Old enemies take a stand and strangers enter the fray.’
    • ‘Day by day, new names enter the fray and it looks as if there will be a bumper number of candidates for the elections to be held on 11 th June.’
    • ‘Many scientists enter the fray from evolutionary biology, the branch of science that conflicts most directly with religion.’
    • ‘It is also expected that some other candidates will enter the fray before convention night.’
    1. 1.1 A battle or fight.
      • ‘Despite these frays, the black children realize they are financially superior.’
      • ‘See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and how the patched and broken windows seem to scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in drunken frays.’
      • ‘France entered into the fray as an ally of Russia and declared war on Germany.’
      • ‘Mayu is nearby, hears the battle, and rushes into the fray.’
      • ‘It's a sad situation, but it's changed now completely because the United States of America has entered the battle and the fray with all of our resources.’
      • ‘She decided to weave her way through the fray, trying to avoid battles, but one knight insisted on aiding her.’
      • ‘Damion would not allow her entry to the city, but if she hung back until he was in the fray, she could sneak herself into the battle and be of some use.’
      • ‘You can wade into the fray and battle the many monsters the game tosses your way, but at times you also will have to switch into a special mode which slows everything.’
      • ‘Abruptly, Beth and the other vampire joined the fray, fighting with teeth as well as preternatural speed and strength.’
      • ‘Four scuffles during the game, with one fight in particular arousing a supporter to the point that he decided to enter the fray by attacking one of the players himself.’
      • ‘Kate felt a rush of adrenaline as she drew the silver sword and flew into the fray, her war cry calling the phantom armies to her.’
      • ‘Police officers pushed several against cars to separate them from the fray as the fight spilled into a parking garage.’
      • ‘This is a book you cannot put down, as each page brings the reader deeper into the fray of battle.’
      • ‘What clearly separated her from the others in the fray was her controlled aggression.’
      • ‘Nor can he explain his unprecedented ability to quickly heal from his frequent frays.’
      battle, engagement, conflict, armed conflict, fight, clash, skirmish, altercation, tussle, struggle, scuffle, melee, brawl, riot, commotion, disturbance
      contest, competition
      scrap, dust-up, set-to, free-for-all
      punch-up, bust-up, ruck
      afters
      rammy, swedge
      affray
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English: from archaic fray to quarrel from affray startle from Anglo-Norman French afrayer (see affray).

Pronunciation

fray

/frā/