Definition of fringe in US English:



  • 1An ornamental border of threads left loose or formed into tassels or twists, used to edge clothing or material.

    • ‘She chuckled, twisting the fringe of the pillow with her right hand.’
    • ‘Much of the vigor of the textile traditions of Mahdia comes through the embellishment of woven cloth with embroidery and the addition of fringes, tassels, and pompoms.’
    • ‘The Prince of Parthia, having completed his evening devotions, folded his shawl, kissing its fringes.’
    • ‘I had given her a hot pink sweater with pompom fringes.’
    • ‘Beads and daisy chains are feminine touches, while rickracks, fringes, and narrow ribbons have universal appeal.’
    • ‘Being a very feminine line, rounded shapes, inverted pleats, fringes, deconstructed cuts and chunky buttons feature in the collection.’
    • ‘A cream marble altar stood complacently in mid-front, draped in a stunningly white tablecloth with fringes at the edges.’
    • ‘They wore yellow embellishments, and both they and the grenadiers had fringes to their epaulettes.’
    • ‘I myself was dressed in a short white satin dress that had white fringes of material down the bottom, and fell in waves down my hips.’
    • ‘I lie under a tartan rug and my fingers twist and plait its fringe.’
    • ‘To a certain extreme, having your jean shorts altered and getting rid of the fringes can help minimize the nasty look of cut-off jeans.’
    • ‘Many tweeds shown on the catwalk had raw fringes and the fabric could be inset with jewel rhinestones.’
    • ‘Round his neck is a horizontally striped silk scarf with a tasselled fringe.’
    • ‘The skirt is a houndstooth print with black leather trim and a fringe at the hem.’
    • ‘It should also include a fringe of cutesy little pom-poms that I can dangle around my monitor.’
    • ‘It looked like a leotard with little dangling fringes at the bottom and sequins everywhere.’
    • ‘She was wearing a floral silk shirt with a fringe and a denim miniskirt.’
    • ‘Allie wound a string around a black bead and glanced at the child decorating her removed armlets with tassels and a tan fringe.’
    • ‘It is decorated with strings, fringes, tassels, and bells.’
    • ‘Simon rolled his eyes and picked up a black teddy with a pompom fringe.’
    edging, edge, border, hem, trimming, frill, flounce, ruffle
    View synonyms
  • 2British The front part of a person's hair cut so as to hang over the forehead; bangs.

    • ‘The rest of her hair was black and cropped short, so the fringe hung like two pink curtains to her face.’
    • ‘He was aged about 30 to 35 with shoulder-length dark brown hair and a long fringe.’
    • ‘The best cuts have soft layers and wispy fringes that make your hair versatile and easy to style’
    • ‘My hairdresser was cutting my fringe quickly and expertly.’
    • ‘I glance in the wing mirror of the car and check how I look, I'm so nervous and my hands are shaking as I push my fringe away from my eyes.’
    • ‘He had black and blonde hair with a long fringe that drooped over his left eye, giving him a sort of mysterious look.’
    • ‘His thin, reddish hair is neatly cut; a boyish fringe covers his forehead.’
    • ‘He had a fairly tanned look and he had dark brown hair with a blond fringe.’
    • ‘He pushed his fringes behind his ears and tilted his head, expecting an answer.’
    • ‘The girl who assaulted the woman is said to have long black hair which was tied back in a ponytail with a fringe.’
    • ‘The red one is bizarrely similar to the hair I used to have many years ago when I was at college, including the authentically crooked fringe.’
    • ‘Indeed the 34-year-old has even had her hair cut stylishly short with a fringe in the hope that she might look less like a ballet dancer in her everyday life.’
    • ‘The man was white, in his thirties, quite tall, with pale skin and black, shoulder length hair with a short fringe.’
    • ‘One was five feet eight inches tall with light brown hair over his ears, with white highlights in his fringe, which was over his forehead and gelled straight.’
    • ‘You would also do well with a textured fringe or a fringe that was longer on the sides and slightly shorter in the middle.’
    • ‘Wisps of her fringe had escaped the loose ponytail and were now curling around her oval face.’
    • ‘As part of a new image to promote the single, 21-year-old Kimberley, of Allerton, Bradford, has been given a new haircut with a fringe.’
    • ‘He stopped and turned around, pushing his fringe out of his deep dark eyes, glistening with tears.’
    • ‘She's sitting in her bedroom, on her bed, legs crossed and hair tied back, a heavy fringe tucked behind her ears.’
    • ‘Scott put out his cigarette in the ashtray, and wiped his hand across his forehead, pushing back his fringe.’
    1. 2.1 A natural border of hair or fibers in an animal or plant.
      • ‘The fringe on owls' trailing feathers, however, allows for ‘a very large noise reduction at the speed owls fly,’ he said.’
      • ‘One genus is predatory, trapping small invertebrates under the fringe of the mantle, and then eating the captured prey.’
      • ‘So she got what was effectively a weed, as the plant produces plantlets along the leaf fringes, which drop off and sow themselves all over the place.’
      • ‘The ears are short and rounded, and in some species, their openings are protected by a fringe of hairs around the inner margin of the ear.’
      • ‘Most are blackish brown with a white fringe of hair decorously surrounding the face.’
      • ‘Forefeet and hindfeet each have 5 digits, and the surface area of the forefeet is increased by the addition of a fringe of stiff hairs around the periphery.’
      • ‘A short fringe of tentacles surrounds a the broad oval disc.’
      • ‘The birds hold their bills upside down, using their lower bills and tongues to pump water through fringes on the top bills, which filters out microscopic mouthfuls of food.’
      • ‘Stems and leaves have a fringe of fine hairs that are particularly appealing when plants are side- or back-lit by the sun.’
  • 3the fringeThe outer, marginal, or extreme part of an area, group, or sphere of activity.

    ‘his uncles were on the fringes of crooked activity’
    • ‘Andy walked to where the cloaked stranger stood on the fringes of the crowd.’
    • ‘Some big shopping malls are located on the fringes of the area.’
    • ‘Moreover, growth does not occur in the city's core but along the fringes, resulting in urban slums beyond the reach of government.’
    • ‘This idea, pioneered on the Illinois frontier, is just as relevant today on Sydney's urban fringe.’
    • ‘It is one of the surest ways through which Zambians would have the opportunity to move from the fringes of economic activity to the mainstream.’
    • ‘Coming from the fringe of the electoral area, this was a gutsy performance by the Newport man who has had to fend off many heavy tackles in both his football and journalistic careers over the years.’
    • ‘Apart from formal trading in the three halls at the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market, there is plenty of economic activity on the fringes.’
    • ‘Chris Towie is a doctor in Wallan, a town just outside the fringes of Melbourne's northern suburbia.’
    • ‘We left the fringes of urban wildlife and circled off round the lakes that were once gravel pits and where a fisherman dipped his rod illegally.’
    • ‘Most are at the fringes or completely outside the cash economy.’
    • ‘The automobile and big discount stores in the urban centers at the fringes of the nation have greatly diminished the role of the trading posts.’
    • ‘Marcus steered me away from the desks and towards the fringes of the crowd, which was now composed only of people in white tunics.’
    • ‘Initially, stations were located on the fringes of the urban area to ease access and economize on land costs.’
    • ‘Like most early projects, it replaced an area of run-down, overcrowded, squalid dwellings on the fringes of the downtown area.’
    • ‘There was a guy on the fringes of the crowd outside who caught Speedy's eye.’
    • ‘However, they operate on the fringes of both spheres.’
    • ‘Patricia Morris is the mayor of Gosnells, a fast-growing area on the outer fringes of Perth.’
    • ‘It was clear we were at the fringes of the richer area of the city, where the buildings were mostly residences, all large and spaced much farther apart than those structures in the common city area.’
    • ‘At the same time Taylor Morgan emerged from the fringes of the crowd, and Mike flagged him down as he walked by.’
    • ‘Eighty-five percent of at-risk American farms are on the fringes of urban areas.’
    unconventional, unorthodox, offbeat, alternative, avant-garde, experimental, innovative, innovatory, radical, extreme
    perimeter, periphery, border, borderline, margin, rim, outer edge, edge, extremity, limit
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    1. 3.1the fringe The unconventional, extreme, or marginal wing of a group or sphere of activity.
      ‘the lunatic fringe of American political life’
      ‘rap music is no longer something on the fringe’
      • ‘Yet every radical justice movement-from abolition to suffrage-started on the fringe.’
      • ‘Thus, politics on the fringe follows two golden rules.’
      • ‘Chun Sue fashions herself as renegade, on the fringe of culture.’
      • ‘And the creation of new genders has become a hobby for those on the fringe.’
      • ‘It may not be pop, but it's certainly populist, and that's why it strikes a chord with a story about people on the fringe who find solace in each other.’
      • ‘Either truth would establish itself within our beings or off we would slip into the deep darkness of the social fringe.’
      • ‘And even though mainstream acceptance of our Way is gaining ground yearly, we are still on the fringe, and still suspect.’
      • ‘Many of the people in this list were former or freed slaves, people at the end of their lives or careers who were hanging on to their former glory, or people on the fringe of society.’
      • ‘More severe penalties is the answer, as this will deter the youths on the fringe who join them.’
      • ‘As always, he is positioned on the fringe of the right-wing fringe.’
      • ‘There were stirrings on the fringe, too, where students were listening to Bob Dylan and rock and roll.’
      • ‘They're not going to listen to people on the fringe.’
      • ‘Though most of these extreme groups are on the fringe, they are increasingly attracting votes and making coalitions with mainstream parties such as in Europe.’
      • ‘But life on the fringe is not without constant hazards.’
      • ‘But Singer says he was always fascinated by those on the fringe, and found himself befriending a number of the city's numerous homeless folk.’
      • ‘They felt like they were on the fringe of American society.’
      • ‘I suppose I was part of the burnout clique, but I was definitely on the fringe.’
      • ‘Increasingly, the unions will be left alone, out on the fringe.’
  • 4A band of contrasting brightness or darkness produced by diffraction or interference of light.

    • ‘The rainbows, often referred to as ‘the glory’, are simply the chromatic fringes developed by diffraction at the margin of the shadow, but it's a startling spectacle.’
    • ‘During this process, the beams from the reference surface and test sample interfere, producing dark and bright fringes.’
    • ‘It can be seen most clearly when a coherent wave is split into two partial waves that are then recombined to produce a pattern of bright and dark fringes on a screen.’
    • ‘According to Young, diffraction fringes occur as a result of interference between the incident wave and a wave arising from the edge of a diffracting aperture or body.’
    • ‘And when waves are specified and you need to look at fringes, think consciously about where the light has been.’
    1. 4.1 A strip of false color in an optical image.
      • ‘But being me I kept being distracted by the fringe of the projected image.’
      • ‘In those days such simple telescopes tended to produce poor images with colored fringes around celestial objects.’
      • ‘The device can produce high-contrast optical fringes.’
  • 5North American

    short for fringe benefit
    • ‘Clark observes that other factors, such as the current exchange rates, competitive wages and lower fringes, also play into the picture.’


  • attributive Not part of the mainstream; unconventional, peripheral, or extreme.

    ‘fringe theater’
    • ‘With this novel, Fiona McGregor not only jumps to the foreground of Australia's fringe novelists, but also earns a place amongst the mainstream.’
    • ‘Over on the Miami mainland, an alternative fringe art fair fired up its own energy.’
    • ‘It doesn't take much research to learn that we're talking not about radical fringe groups here.’
    • ‘Its important that the mainstream peace movement takes a stand against these fringe elements.’
    • ‘A guy who had been considered a fringe radical just a few years earlier was suddenly a serious statesman.’
    • ‘London's fringe theatre offers a myriad of possibilities; it and can be many things, but what it should never be is the theatrical equivalent of a vanity publishing project.’
    • ‘No one would claim these views represent mainstream opinion - and fringe groups often try to hijack the news agenda through co-ordinated letter writing campaigns.’
    • ‘It went from being a fringe movement to becoming part of the mainstream.’
    • ‘I don't believe that she is a particularly good journalist, and she is certainly not a radical fringe activist or even an effective spokesperson for them.’
    • ‘Well, this kind of left-field, fringe thinking has always attracted me.’
    • ‘The other gallery owner and the two artists of the rejected paintings have a connection to political activism, which they note has developed out of their experiences in fringe camps.’
    • ‘Roughly ten days after beginning your fringe theatre experience, you return to the rest of your life, eager to re-orient yourself.’
    • ‘Nicola Gunn found the theatre school she was looking for on the Canadian fringe circuit.’
    • ‘At this level of operation, environmentally sustainable waste management will no longer be a fringe operation - it will be part of the mainstream.’
    • ‘But doing fringe theatre in cramped spaces with folding chairs is a far cry from getting produced in a subscription season in one of the biggest houses in town.’
    • ‘But in an effort to improve his credentials as a fringe liberal, he has drifted into the world of extreme cinema, with appalling results.’
    • ‘As funding got tight in the early 1980s for the kind of fringe theatre he was involved in, he was increasingly drawn to opera, and today directs little else.’
    • ‘This is exactly how a far-right fringe party such as the enters the mainstream.’
    • ‘American Eagle is still dabbling in trendier items, like a line of ponchos and other fringe wear that teenagers will experiment with.’
    • ‘Start getting experience with fringe shows and repertory theatres, particularly those with young designer programmes.’
    unconventional, unorthodox, offbeat, alternative, avant-garde, experimental, innovative, innovatory, radical, extreme
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Decorate (clothing or material) with a fringe.

    ‘a rich robe of gold, fringed with black velvet’
    • ‘He is clad in a jeweled robe fringed with ermine and his mustache and beard are immense and golden.’
    • ‘The gem-studded epaulettes are fringed with seed pearls.’
    • ‘Metallic mosaic tiles, opulently draped curtains, and fringed rugs and throws all contributed to the heady and exotic effect of an Ali Baba cave.’
    • ‘Chandeliers draped with fringed lampshades hung from the ceiling, while gilded mirrors and black-and-white photos of rock icons such as Debbie Harry and Billy Idol lined the red walls.’
    • ‘The old man is wearing a maroon vest fringed with intricate weaving in orange, and has an enormous string of polished blue stones hung in six loops around his neck.’
    • ‘The figure is represented in flowing vestments of white, fringed with gold; and she bears aloft a scarf half unfurled by the breeze.’
    • ‘It was pulled tight over my stomach and bust, and was fringed with white fluff on the hem of the dress and ends of the sleeves.’
    • ‘These handmade Timorese weavings, rectangular in shape and fringed on two edges, are useful as tablecloths, shawls or wall hangings.’
    • ‘One has long silver legs and wears black motorcycle boots; another sports a multicolored fringed outfit with baby-pink platform shoes.’
    • ‘One of earliest references to the use of bookmarks was in 1584 when the Queen's Printer, Christopher Barker, presented Queen Elizabeth I with a fringed silk bookmark.’
    • ‘The early Danhauser sofas are distinguished by their silk upholstery and abundant fringed draperies.’
    • ‘The surrounding ottomans are covered in deep-maroon silk and fringed with gold-dyed tassels.’
    • ‘This frame has a leather mat and hanging strap, and is fringed with scrap yarn.’
    • ‘Traditional peasant women in mountain areas wear large, fringed shawls called pañolones.’
    • ‘Sammy also lends me items of clothing that he's acquired from various sources, the latest being a fringed leather vest that he claims he found in a bag of clothing somewhere.’
    • ‘Painted dragons hold up these canvasses, just as the carved silvered and tinted flying dragons support the blue silk satin window draperies, fringed with gold tassels.’
    • ‘Stylishly clad in a pair of fashionably cut blue jeans and a close-fitting black top fringed with tassels along the lower edge, she was all smiles as she waved and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd.’
    • ‘Woven mats, often fringed with brightly colored wool, are used as gifts at the funerals of relatives.’
    • ‘Her bed was covered in fringed pillows; a stuffed teddy bear sat in the middle of them.’
    • ‘The white backdrop resembles a fringed altar cloth, with small fir trees stitched in the bottom portion.’
    trim, hem, edge, border, rim, bind, braid
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    1. 1.1 Form a border around (something)
      ‘the sea is fringed by palm trees’
      • ‘And outside only a bird's mournful cry broke the stillness of the timeless, winding country lanes and mile upon rolling mile of flat farm land fringed by the sea.’
      • ‘Soon the avenues will be fringed with pines where the Christmas tree sellers have set up their stalls.’
      • ‘Columbia University walkways are still fringed with snow from late winter storms.’
      • ‘The hills rose into peaks, fringed with dark clusters of pine.’
      • ‘This one, fringed with Scotch moss, curves past lilies and other perennials.’
      • ‘The whole chamber was decorated with a deep blood color and fringed with gold.’
      • ‘However, they're fringed with mature cherry trees.’
      • ‘Her large eyes were a very unusual blend of blue and violet, fringed with long dark lashes.’
      • ‘One included a hole in the top and we could climb out onto the top of the cliff so that we could overlook the western beach of the island and the beautiful reefs fringing the entire area.’
      • ‘Nearly 2,000 participants from various parts of the city thronged the ground fringed with entertainment stalls and were dancing and trying their luck at the games.’
      • ‘Eventually we arrived at a black sand bay fringed with jungle.’
      • ‘Playground and workplace for British Columbia's people (most of whom live near its shores) the Strait of Georgia is fringed with hundreds of fjords, bays and estuaries.’
      • ‘Pounding surf, galloping horses and a rugged coastline fringed with subtropical forests are standard ingredients of many a romantic creation.’
      • ‘It's an otherworldly site, fringed with dunes and studded with bone-white calcium carbonate spires called tufa towers.’
      • ‘The natural timber chalets of Tenggol Aqua Resort blend harmoniously into the environment, nestled comfortably amongst the lush green fringing the beach.’
      • ‘The road out of Belfast took us through neat suburbs fringed with lawns and gardens.’
      • ‘As lakes go, they're pretty warm and fringed with white sand so swimming is easy, but you can also hire jet-skis, waterskis or fishing gear here.’
      • ‘Timia is a gem of an oasis, a well watered valley, fringed by mountains.’
      • ‘Finally, there's a sweeping vista of a white beach fringed with coconut palms, with a pristine coral reef.’
      • ‘The ribbon of land mass, fringed with coconut trees, stretches for more than 12,500 miles around a vast lagoon.’
      border, edge, bound, skirt, line, hem, flank, verge, surround, enclose, encircle, circle, encompass, ring, circumscribe
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    2. 1.2as adjective fringed (of a plant or animal) having a natural border of hair or fiber.
      • ‘The even-spreading noon sun was accompanied by mocking cries of the fringed quetzal from the forests around the plantation.’
      • ‘Pecterlis gigantean, with its large white flowers, a fan-shaped fringed lip and a very long spur, is the most spectacular orchid found in mossy fields.’
      • ‘The fringed petal edges were flecked with blue, and the stem was tied with white ribbon.’
      • ‘The fringed white flowers appear in spring, held above the water among the foliage.’
      • ‘The scientific name of fringed sagebrush is Artemisia frigida Willd.’
      • ‘Some of their petals have very smooth edges, while others are deeply fringed.’
      • ‘Clean cultivation should serve as an effective aid in managing white fringed beetles.’
      • ‘There are also playful parrot tulips with ruffled flower edges, frilly fringed tulips and lily-flowered tulips with pointed petals.’
      • ‘For something a tiny bit fancy choose a fringed tulip.’
      • ‘Almost round, they have a bur or mosslike fringed cap that covers at least half the nut.’
      • ‘More and more people are becoming interested in fringed tulips - so much so, that these tulips now have their own group.’
      • ‘The baleen whales feed on swarms of shrimp-like crustaceans called krill, by straining the sea water through long, fringed baleen plates that hang down from the roof of a cavernous mouth.’
      • ‘There is a large, branched tentacle above each eye, adding to the fish's somewhat comical appearance, and a very much smaller fringed tentacle on the nostril beneath each eye.’
      • ‘With its phenomenal fringed and ruffled petals and velvety purple-black color, this is a tulip that stands out in any garden.’
      • ‘It is characterized with slender, brown-yellow bugs with fringed wings thriving in flower buds.’


Middle English: from Old French frenge, based on late Latin fimbria, earlier a plural noun meaning ‘fibers, shreds’.