mid-14c., "feeling of alarm," shortening of affray (q.v.; see also afraid). Meaning "a brawl, a fight" is from early 15c. (late 14c. in Anglo-Latin). Fraymaker "fighter, brawler" is found in a 1530s statute recorded by Prynne ("Soveraigne Power of Parliaments and Kingdomes," 1643). Nares' "Glossary" has frayment (1540s).
"wear off by rubbing," c. 1400, from Old French fraiier, froiier "to rub against, scrape; thrust against" (also in reference to copulation), from Latin fricare "to rub, rub down" (see friction). Intransitive sense "to ravel out" (of fabric, etc.) is from 1721. The noun meaning "a frayed place in a garment" is from 1620s. Related: Frayed; fraying.