Definition of


  1. (noun, artifact) 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
  2. (noun, artifact) an ornamental pattern consisting of repeated vertical and horizontal lines (often in relief)
  3. (noun, attribute) a spot that has been worn away by abrasion or erosion
  4. (noun, state) agitation resulting from active worry
    he's in a sweat about exams
  5. (verb, change) wear away or erode
  6. (verb, change) remove soil or rock
  7. (verb, contact) cause friction
  8. (verb, contact) be too tight; rub or press
  9. (verb, creation) decorate with an interlaced design
  10. (verb, creation) carve a pattern into
  11. (verb, emotion) be agitated or irritated
  12. (verb, emotion) gnaw into; make resentful or angry
    his resentment festered
  13. (verb, emotion) cause annoyance in
  14. (verb, emotion) worry unnecessarily or excessively
  15. (verb, perception) become or make sore by or as if by rubbing
  16. (verb, possession) provide (a musical instrument) with frets

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Fret

  1. O.E. fretan "eat, devour" (in O.E., used of monsters and Vikings; in M.E., used of animals' eating), from P.Gmc. compound *fra- "for-" + *etan "to eat" (cf. Du. vreton, O.H.G. freggan, Ger. fressen, Goth. fraitan). Figurative sense of "irritate, worry, eat one's heart out" is c.1200. Modern Ger. still distinguishes essen f… more
  2. "ornamental interlaced pattern," late 14c., from O.Fr. frete "interlaced work, trellis work," probably from Frank. *fetur (cf. O.E. fetor, O.H.G. feggara "fetter") perhaps from notion of "decorative anklet," or of materials "bound" together. The other noun, "ridge on the fingerboard of a guitar," is c.1500 of unknown origin but possibly another sense… more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

Note: If you're looking to improve your vocabulary right now, we highly recommend Ultimate Vocabulary Software.

Word of the Moment

Touch Base

establish communication with someone