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," which is first attested 1510s. Related: Framed; framing.
Meaning "sustaining parts of a structure fitted together" is from c. 1400. Meaning "enclosing border" of any kind is from c. 1600; specifically "border or case for a picture or pane of glass" from 1660s. The meaning "human body" is from 1590s. Of bicycles, from 1871; of motor cars, from 1900. Meaning "separate picture in a series from a film" is from 1916. From 1660s in the meaning "particular state" (as in Frame of mind, 1711). Frame of reference is 1897, from mechanics and graphing; the figurative sense is attested from 1924.
type of framework shaped like the capital letter "A," by 1889; as a type of building construction in this shape from 1932.
Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.
It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.
"base frame of an automobile," 1903, American English; earlier "sliding frame or carriage-base for a large gun" (1869), "window frame" (1660s), from French châssis "frame," Old French chassiz (13c.) "frame, framework, setting," from chasse "case, box, eye socket, snail's shell, setting (of a jewel)," from Latin capsa "box, case" (see case (n.2)) + French -is, collective suffix for a number of parts taken together. Compare sash (n.2).