fray

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above the fray

Uninvolved in an argument or debate. Kristen always tried to stay above the fray whenever there was a disagreement at work. It's difficult to stay above the fray when dealing with hostile family members.
See also: above, fray

enter the fray

1. To join a competition. Now that you've entered the fray and decided to run for mayor, I hope you've prepared for the personal attacks unfortunately are likely to follow.
2. To join in on an argument. Once my relatives start arguing, I usually leave the room rather than enter the fray.
See also: enter, fray

enter the lists

To join an argument or competition. Now that you've entered the lists and decided to run for mayor, I hope you've prepared for the personal attacks unfortunately are likely to follow. Once my relatives start arguing, I usually leave the room rather than enter the lists.
See also: enter, list

fray around the edges

1. Literally, to become worn along the edges, as of fabric. I think it's time for us to get a new blanket—this one is all frayed around the edges.
2. To become less successful or harmonious. Our roommate relationship is starting to fray around the edges now that Pat has begun leaving his stuff, including dirty dishes, all over the apartment.
See also: around, edge, fray

tempers frayed

Things became tense among people; people lost their tempers. Tempers frayed at Thanksgiving when Uncle Stu and Aunt Marsha started arguing about politics.
See also: fray, temper

enter the lists

Fig. to begin to take part in a contest or argument. He had decided not to stand for Parliament, but entered the lists at the last minute. The family disagreement had almost been resolved when the grandfather entered the lists.
See also: enter, list

join the fray

 and jump into the fray; enter the fray
Fig. to join the fight or argument. After listening to the argument, Mary decided to jump into the fray. Tom joined the fray and immediately got knocked down.
See also: fray, join

enter the lists

Also, enter the fray. Engage in a fight or competition, as in He said he'd be willing to enter the lists well before the primaries, or Whenever people disagreed, she was eager to enter the fray. The first term uses the noun lists in the sense of "a barrier around the arena enclosing medieval jousting tournaments" and was being used figuratively by the late 1500s. The variant uses fray in the sense of "a noisy skirmish or battle," a usage from the late 1300s.
See also: enter, list

fray at the edges

or

fray around the edges

If something or someone frays at the edges or frays around the edges, they gradually become weaker or less successful. The government's army has begun to fray at the edges. By this time, their partnership had begun to fray around the edges. Note: You can also talk about something being frayed at the edges or frayed around the edges. At 72, his voice is sometimes a little frayed around the edges, but that just adds to its charm. Note: If a piece of cloth or rope frays, its threads or fibres start to come apart.
See also: edge, fray

enter the lists

issue or accept a challenge.
In medieval times, the lists were the enclosed area in which knights fought each other in tournaments.
See also: enter, list

ˌfray at/around the ˈedges/ˈseams

start to come apart or to fail: Support for the leader was fraying at the edges.
If cloth frays, the threads in it start to come apart.
See also: around, edge, fray, seam
References in classic literature ?
Meanwhile the Achaeans carried off the body of Tlepolemus, whereon Ulysses was moved to pity, and panted for the fray as he beheld them.
Tydeus was a little man, but he could fight, and rushed madly into the fray even when I told him not to do so.
There is a sense of satisfaction in looking at your men all ready for the fray.
History is known, to my young remembrance of that library, by a History of the United States, whose dust and ashes I hardly made my way through; and by a 'Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada', by the ever dear and precious Fray Antonio Agapida, whom I was long in making out to be one and the same as Washington Irving.
And indeed so he might; for he had now discovered the place whence the poor girl had, at the beginning of the fray, stolen away, upon as many feet as a hare generally uses in travelling.
These words: a prayer, a briary sky punctures, frays.
The Frays claim brake fluid has been splashed on their drive, cars have had nails pushed into the tyres, and their garage was broken into.