Old English framian "to profit, be helpful, avail, benefit," from fram (adj., adv.) "active, vigorous, bold," originally "going forward," from fram (prep.) "forward; from" (see from). Influenced by related Old English fremman "help forward, promote; do, perform, make, accomplish," and Old Norse fremja "to further, execute." Compare German frommen "avail, profit, benefit, be of use."
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.
c. 1200, "profit, benefit, advancement;" mid-13c. "a structure composed according to a plan," from frame (v.) and in part from Scandinavian cognates (Old Norse frami "advancement"). In late 14c. it also meant "the rack."
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.