Pronunciation Noun

frill (plural frills)

  1. A strip of pleated fabric or paper used as decoration or trim.
    Synonyms: flounce, furbelow, ruffle
    • 1777, Samuel Jackson Pratt (as Courtney Melmoth), Liberal Opinions, upon Animals, Man, and Providence, London: G. Robinson and J. Bew, Volume 5, Chapter 114, p. 163,
      […] one of her husband Jeffery’s shirts (with frills to the bosom) […]
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair (novel), London: Bradbury & Evans, Chapter 20, p. 172,
      His face had fallen in, and was unshorn; his frill and neckcloth hung limp under his bagging waistcoat.
    • 1977, Agatha Christie, chapter 4, in An Autobiography, part II, London: Collins, →ISBN:
      Mind you, clothes were clothes in those days. […]  Frills, ruffles, flounces, lace, complicated seams and gores: not only did they sweep the ground and have to be held up in one hand elegantly as you walked along, but they had little capes or coats or feather boas.
  2. (figurative) A substance or material on the edge of something, resembling such a strip of fabric.
    • 1874, Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd, London: Smith, Elder, Volume 2, Chapter 17, p. 206,
      Nothing moved in sky, land, or sea, except a frill of milkwhite foam along the nearer angles of the shore […]
    • 1920, Katherine Mansfield, “Prelude” in Bliss and Other Stories, Toronto: Macmillan, pp. 25-26,
      […] a few tiny corkscrew tendrils had come right through some cracks in the scullery ceiling and all the windows of the lean-to had a thick frill of ruffled green.
    • 1979, Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves” in The Bloody Chamber, Penguin, 1993,
      […] the bright frills of the winter fungi on the blotched trunks of the trees;
    • 2009, Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger, London: Virago, Chapter 12,
      ‘Isn’t it a shame!’ Mrs Ayres said softly, now and then pausing to brush aside a frill of snow and examine the plant beneath […]
  3. (photography) A wrinkled edge to a film.
  4. (figurative) Something extraneous or not essential; something purely for show or effect; a luxury.
    • 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned, New York: Scribner, Book 3, Chapter 2, p. 381,
      “My name is Sammy Carleton. Not ‘Mr.’ Carleton, but just plain Sammy. I’m a regular no-nonsense man with no fancy frills about me. I want you to call me Sammy.”
    • 1985, Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, Part 12, Chapter 35,
      Falling in love, I said. Falling into it, we all did then, one way or another. How could he have made such light of it? Sneered even. As if it was trivial for us, a frill, a whim.
    • 1989, John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2009, Chapter 2, p. 91,
      Torontonians clutter their brick and stone houses with too much trim, or with window trim and shutters—and they also carve their shutters with hearts or maple leaves—but the snow conceals these frills;
  5. (zoology) The relatively extensive margin seen on the back of the heads of reptiles, with either a bony support or a cartilaginous one.
    Synonyms: neck frill
    • 1943, Xavier Herbert, Capricornia (novel), New York: D. Appleton-Century, Chapter 14, p. 227,
      A large admiral lizard leapt up on a rail, stood on hind legs with fore legs raised like hands and watched for a moment […] , then loped down the cess-path with arms swinging and iridescent frill flying out like a cape […]
    • 1997, Richard Flanagan, The Sound of One Hand Clapping (novel), New York: Grove Press, Chapter 54,
      She reminded Bojan of a desert lizard throwing up its frill to frighten predators.
Translations Translations
  • Italian: arricciamento
Translations Verb

frill (frills, present participle frilling; past and past participle frilled)

  1. (transitive) To make into a frill.
  2. (intransitive) To become wrinkled.
  3. (transitive) To provide or decorate with a frill or frills; to turn back in crimped plaits.
    • 1766, Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield, Salisbury: F. Newbery, Volume 1, Chapter 11, p. 107,
      And I will be bold to say my two girls have had a pretty good education, and capacity […] they understand their needle, breadstitch, cross and change, and all manner of plain-work; they can pink, point, and frill;
    • 1863, Charles Dickens, Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings, Chapter 4, in All the Year Round, Volume 10, Extra Christmas Number, 3 December, 1863, p. 35,
      Mrs. Sandham, formerly Kate Barford, is working at a baby’s frock, and asking now and then the advice of her sister, who is frilling a little cap.

frill (frills, present participle frilling; past and past participle frilled)

  1. (intransitive, obsolete, falconry) To shake or shiver as with cold (with reference to a hawk).
  2. (intransitive, obsolete, falconry) To cry (with reference to a bird of prey).
    • 1688, Randle_Holme#Randle_Holme_III, The Academy of Armory, Chester: for the author, Book 2, Chapter 13, “Of the Voices of Birds,” p. 310,
      The Eagle Frilleth, or Scriketh
      The Hawk, as Falcon, Gawshawk, and all such Birds of Prey, cryeth, peepeth, or frilleth.

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