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fret 1 (frĕt)
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v. fret·ted, fret·ting, frets
v.intr.
1. To be vexed or troubled; worry. See Synonyms at brood.
2. To be worn or eaten away; become corroded.
3. To move agitatedly.
4. To gnaw with the teeth in the manner of a rodent.
v.tr.
1. To cause to be uneasy; vex: "fret thy soul with crosses and with cares" (Edmund Spenser).
2.
a. To gnaw or wear away; erode.
b. To produce a hole or worn spot in; corrode.
3. To form (a passage or channel) by erosion.
4. To disturb the surface of (water or a stream); agitate.
n.
1. The act or an instance of fretting.
2. A hole or worn spot made by abrasion or erosion.
3. Irritation of mind; agitation.

[Middle English freten, from Old English fretan, to devour; see ed- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
fret 2 (frĕt)
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n.
One of several ridges set across the fingerboard of certain stringed instruments, such as guitars.
tr.v. fret·ted, fret·ting, frets
1. To provide with frets.
2. To press (the strings of an instrument) against the frets.

[Origin unknown.]
(click for a larger image)
fret2
on the neck of an
electric guitar

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
fret 3 (frĕt)
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n.
1. An ornamental design consisting of repeated and symmetrical geometric figures, often in relief, contained within a band or border. Also called key pattern.
2. A headdress, worn by women of the Middle Ages, consisting of interlaced wire.
tr.v. fret·ted, fret·ting, frets
To provide with such a design or headdress.

[Middle English, interlaced work, from Old French frete.]
(click for a larger image)
fret3
fret designs

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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