1. a border or case for enclosing a picture, mirror, etc.
  2. a rigid structure formed of relatively slender pieces, joined so as to surround sizable empty spaces or nonstructural panels, and generally used as a major support in building or engineering works, machinery, furniture, etc.
  3. a body, especially a human body, with reference to its size or build; physique: He has a large frame.
  4. a structure for admitting or enclosing something: a window frame.
  5. Usually frames. (used with a plural verb) the framework for a pair of eyeglasses.
  6. form, constitution, or structure in general; system; order.
  7. a particular state, as of the mind: an unhappy frame of mind.
  8. Movies. one of the successive pictures on a strip of film.
  9. Television. a single traversal by the electron beam of all the scanning lines on a television screen. In the U.S. this is a total of 525 lines traversed in 1/30 (0.033) second.Compare field(def 19).
  10. Computers. the information or image on a screen or monitor at any one time.
  11. Bowling.
    1. one of the ten divisions of a game.
    2. one of the squares on the scorecard, in which the score for a given frame is recorded.
  12. Pool. rack1(def 3).
  13. Baseball. an inning.
  14. Slang. a frame-up.
  15. enclosing lines, usually forming a square or rectangle, to set off printed matter in a newspaper, magazine, or the like; a box.
  16. the structural unit that supports the chassis of an automobile.
  17. Nautical.
    1. any of a number of transverse, riblike members for supporting and stiffening the shell of each side of a hull.
    2. any of a number of longitudinal members running between web frames to support and stiffen the shell plating of a metal hull.
  18. a machine or part of a machine supported by a framework, especially as used in textile production: drawing frame; spinning frame.
  19. Printing. the workbench of a compositor, consisting of a cabinet, cupboards, bins, and drawers, and having flat and sloping work surfaces on top.
  20. Bookbinding. an ornamental border, similar to a picture frame, stamped on the front cover of some books.
  21. in frame, Shipbuilding. (of a hull) with all frames erected and ready for planking or plating.

verb (used with object), framed, fram·ing.

  1. to form or make, as by fitting and uniting parts together; construct.
  2. to contrive, devise, or compose, as a plan, law, or poem: to frame a new constitution.
  3. to conceive or imagine, as an idea.
  4. Informal. to incriminate (an innocent person) through the use of false evidence, information, etc.
  5. to provide with or put into a frame, as a picture.
  6. to give utterance to: Astonished, I attempted to frame adequate words of protest.
  7. to form or seem to form (speech) with the lips, as if enunciating carefully.
  8. to fashion or shape: to frame a bust from marble.
  9. to shape or adapt to a particular purpose: to frame a reading list for ninth graders.
  10. Informal. to contrive or prearrange fraudulently or falsely, as in a scheme or contest.
  11. to adjust (film) in a motion-picture projector so as to secure exact correspondence of the outlines of the frame and aperture.
  12. to line up visually in a viewfinder or sight.
  13. Archaic. to direct, as one’s steps.

verb (used without object), framed, fram·ing.

  1. Archaic. to betake oneself; resort.
  2. Archaic. to prepare, attempt, give promise, or manage to do something.


  1. Janet . 1924–2004, and New Zealand writer: author of the novels Owls Do Cry (1957) and Faces in the Water (1961), the collection of verse The Pocket (1967), and volumes of autobiography including An Angel at My Table (1984), which was made into a film in 1990


  1. an open structure that gives shape and support to something, such as the transverse stiffening ribs of a ship’s hull or an aircraft’s fuselage or the skeletal beams and uprights of a building
  2. an enclosing case or border into which something is fittedthe frame of a picture
  3. the system around which something is built upthe frame of government
  4. the structure of the human body
  5. a condition; state (esp in the phrase frame of mind)
    1. one of a series of individual exposures on a strip of film used in making motion pictures
    2. an individual exposure on a film used in still photography
    3. an individual picture in a comic strip
    1. a television picture scanned by one or more electron beams at a particular frequency
    2. the area of the picture so formed
  6. billiards snooker
    1. the wooden triangle used to set up the balls
    2. the balls when set up
    3. a single game finished when all the balls have been pottedUS and Canadian equivalent (for senses 8a, 8b): rack
  7. computing (on a website) a self-contained section that functions independently from other parts; by using frames, a website designer can make some areas of a website remain constant while others change according to the choices made by the internet user
  8. short for cold frame
  9. one of the sections of which a beehive is composed, esp one designed to hold a honeycomb
  10. a machine or part of a machine over which yarn is stretched in the production of textiles
  11. (in language teaching, etc) a syntactic construction with a gap in it, used for assigning words to syntactic classes by seeing which words may fill the gap
  12. statistics an enumeration of a population for the purposes of sampling, esp as the basis of a stratified sample
  13. (in telecommunications, computers, etc) one cycle of a regularly recurring number of pulses in a pulse train
  14. slang another word for frame-up
  15. obsolete shape; form
  16. in the frame likely to be awarded or to achieveI’m in the frame for the top job

verb (mainly tr)

  1. to construct by fitting parts together
  2. to draw up the plans or basic details for; outlineto frame a policy
  3. to compose, contrive, or conceiveto frame a reply
  4. to provide, support, or enclose with a frameto frame a picture
  5. to form (words) with the lips, esp silently
  6. slang to conspire to incriminate (someone) on a false charge
  7. slang to contrive the dishonest outcome of (a contest, match, etc); rig
  8. (intr) Yorkshire and Northeast English dialect
    1. (usually imperative or dependent imperative)to make an effort
    2. to have ability

Old English framian “to profit, be helpful, avail, benefit,” from fram “active, vigorous, bold,” originally “going forward,” from fram “forward; from” (see from).

Influenced by related Old English fremman “help forward, promote, further, do, perform, accomplish,” and by Old Norse fremja “to further, execute.” Sense focused in Middle English from “make ready” (mid-13c.) to “prepare timber for building” (late 14c.). Meaning “compose, devise” is first attested 1540s.

The criminal slang sense of “blame an innocent person” (1920s) is probably from earlier sense of “plot in secret” (1900), perhaps ultimately from meaning “fabricate a story with evil intent,” first attested 1510s. Related: Framed; framing.


c.1200, “profit, benefit;” mid-13c. “composition, plan,” from frame (v.) and from Scandinavian (cf. Old Norse frami “advancement”). In late 14c. it also meant “the rack.”

Meaning “building” is from early 15c.; that of “border or case for a picture or pane of glass” is from c.1600. The meaning “established order, plan” and that of “human body” are both first recorded 1590s. Of bicycles, from 1871; of motor cars, from 1900. Frame of mind is from 1711. Frame of reference is 1897, from mechanics and graphing; the figurative sense is attested from 1924.


(of buildings), “made of wood,” 1790, American English, from frame (n.).


  1. Something composed of parts fitted and joined together.
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