The Meaning of Fringe: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of fringe? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word fringe, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the word fringe mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Cambridge English Dictionary, the word fringe (pronounced frɪndʒ) has a few different meanings. First, it can be used as a noun to describe some ornamental border, decorative border or tassel. Second, it can be used as a noun to mean some outer edge or outer part of a group or area, whether literally – like a fringe area or the fringes of the city – or figuratively, referring to people who may have outlandish or unorthodox ideas, such as fringe members of a society, or a radical fringe social group. It can also be used as an adjective or modifier to describe such fringe groups. These extremist political party groups might have extreme views that cause them to be separate from the views of the rest of society. Fringe is also the British English term for the American term bangs, which is a women’s hairstyle in which they have the front pieces of the hair cut short over the forehead. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today!

Many different languages around the world also contain words meaning fringe. You may notice that many of these words look similar to each other. This is likely because they have a common origin or root, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word fringe is provided by Word Sense

  • Norwegian – Bokmål: ytterkant‎ (masc.)
  • Dutch: rand‎
  • Tagalog: palawingwing‎
  • Nynorsk: ytterkant‎ (masc.)
  • Italian: periferia‎ (fem.)
  • Maori: kawekawe‎ (of a mat or article of clothing)
  • Irish: ciumhais‎ (fem.)
  • Portuguese: periferia‎ (fem.)
  • Swedish: periferi‎ (common), utkant‎ (common), gränstrakt‎ (common), rand‎ (common), ytterområde‎ (neut.)
  • French: périphérie‎ (fem.)
  • Russian: перифе́рия‎ (fem.), край‎ (masc.)
  • Catalan: perifèria‎ (fem.)
  • Finnish: reuna‎, reuna-alue‎
  • Scottish Gaelic: iomall‎ (masc.), oir‎ (fem.)
  • German: Rand‎ (masc.)
  • Serbo-Croatian – Roman: periferija‎
  • Bulgarian: край‎ (masc.), ръб‎ (masc.)

How can the word fringe be used in a sentence?

The word fringe can be used in many different ways. First, it can be used as a noun to describe some ornamental border:

I love the fringe on this ottoman. It gives it such character!

Next, it can be used to describe people who may have unorthodox viewpoints or political opinions:

The fringe group took to protesting the closing of the radical business.

It can also be used to describe the outer part of an area:

He lived on the fringes of the city.

What is the origin of the word fringe?

According to Etymonline, the word fringe has been used as a noun since the early 14th century to refer to some ornamental bordering. This comes from the Old French frenge meanings some thread or border. This French word has its origins in the Vulgar LAtin frimbia, which is a metathesis of the Late Latin fimbria, from the Latin fimbriae, a plural noun meaning fibers or threads. This word has been used to mean a border since the 1640s, and used in a figurative sense since the 1890s. This word began to be used as a verb in the late 15th century, and as an adjective by 1809. The idiom fringe benefits has been recorded since the year 1952. Related words include fringes, fringed, fringing, and infringing/infringe/infringed.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word fringe?

Since the word fringe has a few different meanings, this means that it will have different sets of synonyms and antonyms. Synonyms are words that have the same definition as another word or phrase, while antonyms have the opposite definitions as a given word or phrase. 

First, there are many synonyms for the noun fringe, meaning some border or periphery. This list of synonyms is provided by Thesaurus.

  • side
  • butt
  • shore
  • corner
  • frame
  • limit
  • boundary
  • brim
  • split
  • outline
  • bound
  • extremity
  • bend
  • term
  • curb
  • verge
  • threshold
  • rim
  • periphery
  • perimeter
  • portal
  • frontier
  • ring
  • ledge
  • strand
  • end
  • margin
  • hook
  • limb
  • contour
  • molding
  • peak
  • line
  • circumference
  • lip
  • turn
  • outskirt
  • brink
  • mouth
  • border
  • point
  • trimming
  • tip
  • berm
  • skirt
  • crook
  • edge
  • crust
  • hem

The below list of antonyms for this definition of fringe is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • midpoint
  • heart
  • center
  • midriff
  • halfway point
  • midst
  • inside
  • marrow
  • mean
  • deep
  • midsection
  • core
  • halfway
  • media
  • focus
  • thick
  • waist
  • middle

Next, there are many different synonyms for the adjective fringe, meaning not part of the mainstream. This list of synonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • off the wall
  • nonconformist
  • free and easy
  • uncustomary
  • kooky
  • unconventional
  • idiosyncratic
  • offbeat
  • informal
  • unceremonious
  • individual
  • unusual
  • individualistic
  • anarchistic
  • freakish
  • avant-garde
  • out of the ordinary
  • far-out
  • unorthodox
  • kinky
  • uncommon
  • irregular
  • beat
  • off the beaten track
  • weirdo
  • oddball
  • out in left field
  • unique
  • crazy
  • atypical
  • way-out
  • original
  • eccentric
  • bizarre
  • freaky

The below list of antonyms for the adjective definition of fringe is also provided by Thesaurus

  • dominant
  • normal
  • popular
  • standard
  • average
  • predominant
  • typical
  • established
  • prevailing
  • common
  • primary
  • widespread
  • conventional
  • mainstream
  • regular
  • general
  • accepted
  • current

Finally, the word fringe can also be used as a noun to refer to a border or decorative hem. This final list of synonyms is also provided by Thesaurus.

  • tassel
  • skirt
  • periphery
  • ruffle
  • borderline
  • mane
  • edge
  • binding
  • hem
  • march
  • outskirts
  • flounce
  • rickrack
  • limit
  • verge
  • edging
  • outside
  • perimeter
  • margin
  • brink
  • brim

Overall, the word fringe can be used in many different ways. First, it can be used to describe an ornamental border consisting of tassels or other decorative borders. It can also be used to describe people with extreme or unorthodox viewpoints, or the outer edge of a city, area, or society.