Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

startle

play
verb star·tle \ˈstär-təl\

Simple Definition of startle

  • : to surprise or frighten (someone) suddenly and usually not seriously

  • : to move or jump suddenly because something surprises you or frightens you

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of startle

startledstartling play \ˈstärt-liŋ, ˈstär-təl-iŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to move or jump suddenly (as in surprise or alarm) <the baby startles easily>

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to frighten or surprise suddenly and usually not seriously

startlement play \-mənt\ noun

Examples of startle in a sentence

  1. I'm sorry that I startled you.

  2. <the lightning startled the children and sent them scurrying for cover>



Origin of startle

Middle English stertlen, frequentative of sterten to start


First Known Use: 1530


2

startle

noun star·tle

Definition of startle

  1. :  a sudden mild shock (as of surprise or alarm)



1714

First Known Use of startle

1714


STARTLE Defined for Kids

startle

play
verb star·tle \ˈstär-təl\

Definition of startle for Students

startledstartling

  1. 1 :  to move or jump (as in surprise or fear) <The cat startles easily.>

  2. 2 :  to frighten suddenly but slightly <A knock on the window startled her.>





Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

immature or lacking adult sophistication

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image567572573

Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

maudlin prompt angry oily
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ