Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • 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

startled

startling

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 and Etymology 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

startled

startling

  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

a representation of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

melancholy philistine lazy frenetic
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