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verb, pet·ri·fy \ˈpe-trə-ˌfī\

Simple Definition of petrify

  • : to make (someone) very afraid

  • : to slowly change (something, such as wood) into stone or a substance like stone over a very long period of time

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of petrify


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to convert (organic matter) into stone or a substance of stony hardness by the infiltration of water and the deposition of dissolved mineral matter

  3. 2 :  to make rigid or inert like stone: a :  to make lifeless or inactive :  deaden <slogans are apt to petrify a man's thinking — Saturday Review> b :  to confound with fear, amazement, or awe <a novel about an airline pilot that will petrify you — Martin Levin>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to become stone or of stony hardness or rigidity

Examples of petrify in a sentence

  1. the processes that petrify wood

  2. The dead tree petrified into stone.

Origin of petrify

Middle French petrifier, from petr- + -ifier -ify

First Known Use: 1594

Rhymes with petrify

abide by, Adonai, alibi, alkali, amplify, apple-pie, argufy, assegai, azo dye, basify, beautify, butterfly, by-and-by, caddis fly, calcify, certify, Chou En-lai, citify, clarify, classify, coalify, cockneyfy, codify, college try, cottage pie, crucify, cut-and-try, cutie-pie, DIY, damnify, damselfly, dandify, deify, densify, dignify, dobsonfly, do-or-die, dragonfly, dulcify, eagle eye, edify, evil eye, falsify, fancify, fortify, frenchify, fructify, gasify, Gemini, gentrify, glorify, goggle-eye, goldeneye, gratify, Haggai, harvest fly, hexerei, high and dry, hip and thigh, Hokusai, hook and eye, horrify, hoverfly, humble pie, Iceni, justify, kiss good-bye, lazy eye, lignify, liquefy, lithify, Lorelei, lullaby, Madurai, magnify, Malachi, Maracay, minify, modify, mollify, Molokai, Mordecai, mortify, multi-ply, multiply, mummify, mystify, nazify, notify, nullify, occupy, old school tie, on standby, on the fly, ossify, overbuy, overfly, overlie, pacify, Paraguay, passerby, peccavi, PPI, preachify, prettify, private eye, prophesy, purify, putrefy, qualify, quantify, ramify, rarefy, ratify, RBI, rectify, reify, res gestae, robber fly, runner's high, Russify, samurai, sanctify, satisfy, scarify, schwarmerei, semidry, set store by, shepherd's pie, shoofly pie, signify, simplify, Spanish fly, specify, speechify, stratify, stultify, stupefy, sweetie pie, Tenebrae, terrify, testify, tie-and-dye, tigereye, Trans Alai, tumble dry, typify, uglify, underlie, unify, Uruguay, Veneti, verify, versify, vilify, vinify, vitrify, vivify, weather eye, Windsor tie, xanthene dye, yuppify, zombify

PETRIFY Defined for Kids


verb pet·ri·fy \ˈpe-trə-ˌfī\

Definition of petrify for Students


  1. 1 :  to change plant or animal matter into stone or something like stone <petrified wood>

  2. 2 :  to frighten very much <Lightning petrifies me.>

Medical Dictionary


verb pet·ri·fy \ˈpe-trə-ˌfī\

Medical Definition of petrify

petrified; petrifying

  1. transitive verb

  2. :  to convert (organic matter) into stone or a stony substance

  3. intransitive verb

  4. :  to become stone or like stone

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up petrify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to dishevel or rumple

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