There are 2 main definitions of fray in English:

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fray1

Line breaks: fray
Pronunciation: /freɪ
 
/

verb

1 [no object] (Of a fabric, rope, or cord) unravel or become worn at the edge, typically through constant rubbing: cheap fabric soon frays
More example sentences
  • The cloth had frayed at the edges; the tassels had unraveled.
  • 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.
  • ‘Cheap’ thread will fray, break and cause knotting of the thread while sewing.
Synonyms
unravel, wear, wear thin, wear out, wear away, wear through, become worn, become threadbare, become tattered, become ragged, go into holes, go through
worn out, worn through, worn thin, in holes, in tatters, falling to pieces, the worse for wear
informal tatty, ratty
North American informal raggedy
1.1(Of a person’s nerves or temper) show the effects of strain: as the temperature rose, tempers frayed
More example sentences
  • And as nerves fray and tempers rise you can be assured of a catty remark or backstage rumpus.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Synonyms
strain, tax, overtax, irritate, put on edge, make edgy, make tense
strained, taxed, overtaxed, irritated, edgy, tense, stressed, fraught
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: bucks mark their territory by fraying small trees

Origin

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

More
  • The spelling fray represents two distinct words. The verb meaning ‘to unravel’ comes from Latin fricare ‘to rub’, found also in friction (mid 16th century). A person eager to fight might ‘plunge into the fray’. This comes from the same root as the old legal term affray, Old French afrayer ‘to disturb, startle’. Someone frazzled (early 19th century) with exhaustion might not be surprised to hear that the word is probably linked with fray meaning ‘to unravel’.

Definition of fray in:

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There are 2 main definitions of fray in English:

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fray2

Line breaks: fray
Pronunciation: /freɪ
 
/

noun

(the fray)
1A situation of intense competitive activity: ten companies intend to bid for the contract, with three more expected to enter the fray
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Overall domestic market share is down and it's recently been falling in the light truck sector, as new foreign competitors enter the fray.
  • 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.
1.1A battle or fight: he charged into the thick of the fray and went down fighting
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Nor can he explain his unprecedented ability to quickly heal from his frequent frays.
  • Despite these frays, the black children realize they are financially superior.
Synonyms
battle, engagement, conflict, armed conflict, fight, clash, skirmish, altercation, tussle, struggle, scuffle, melee, brawl, riot, commotion, disturbance;
contest, competition
informal scrap, dust-up, set-to, free-for-all
British informal punch-up, bust-up, ruck
British informal , Football afters
Scottish informal rammy, swedge
Law , dated affray

Origin

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

More
  • The spelling fray represents two distinct words. The verb meaning ‘to unravel’ comes from Latin fricare ‘to rub’, found also in friction (mid 16th century). A person eager to fight might ‘plunge into the fray’. This comes from the same root as the old legal term affray, Old French afrayer ‘to disturb, startle’. Someone frazzled (early 19th century) with exhaustion might not be surprised to hear that the word is probably linked with fray meaning ‘to unravel’.

Definition of fray in:

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