\ˈfrīt \

Definition of fright 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : fear excited by sudden danger : alarm gave me quite a fright

2 : something strange, ugly, or shocking


frighted; frighting; frights

Definition of fright (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to alarm suddenly : frighten

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Synonyms & Antonyms for fright

Synonyms: Noun

alarm (also alarum), anxiety, dread, fear, fearfulness, horror, panic, scare, terror, trepidation

Synonyms: Verb

alarm (also alarum), frighten, horrify, panic, scare, shock, spook, startle, terrify, terrorize

Antonyms: Verb


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Choose the Right Synonym for fright


fear, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, trepidation mean painful agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger. fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually loss of courage. fear of the unknown dread usually adds the idea of intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation and suggests aversion as well as anxiety. faced the meeting with dread fright implies the shock of sudden, startling fear. fright at being awakened suddenly alarm suggests a sudden and intense awareness of immediate danger. view the situation with alarm panic implies unreasoning and overmastering fear causing hysterical activity. the news caused widespread panic terror implies the most extreme degree of fear. immobilized with terror trepidation adds to dread the implications of timidity, trembling, and hesitation. raised the subject with trepidation

Examples of fright in a Sentence


Her eyes were wide with fright. people in our neighborhood think that that orange and green office building is a hideous fright


a ghastly sight that would fright even the most stouthearted soul
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Aside from fright, West shrieks about being a superhero, with his superpower being his bipolar disorder. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Here Are the Lyrics to Kanye West's 'Yikes'," 12 June 2018 If the turmoil in Italy and the markets’ fright have served as a reminder of such dangers, and spur reform both in Rome and Brussels, then some good may come of the mess. The Economist, "Italy needs to be handled with care," 31 May 2018 That fright, however, only lasted for a minute or two because the teacher would give you a hug and assure you that your mommy would come back very soon. Bea Lewis,, "Understanding their cries | Opinion," 5 July 2018 Global stockmarkets took fright at the trade news, none more so than in China. The Economist, "Business this week," 23 June 2018 That seems to be the message of this dumb found-footage fright flick. Chris Ball,, "Diane Kruger stars in 'In the Fade,' now on DVD and Blu-ray (review)," 8 May 2018 Both sides won their respective groups with ease, but the Red Devils were given a terrible fright by Japan in the round of 16 - ​they had to claw back a two-goal deficit to win 3-2. James Taylor, Pro Soccer USA, "Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Red Devils Shatter Brazil’s Dreams With Clinical Display to Set Up France Clash," 6 July 2018 Domestic box office gross: N/A Liam Neeson originated the role of Darkman in a 1990 film directed by fright-movie master Sam Raimi. Charles Stockdale And John Harrington, USA TODAY, "The 24 most forgettable superheroes in movies," 5 July 2018 The viewer might be left with a few decent frights, but at this point the mortal terror of Spielberg’s original film has been diminished beyond repair. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fright.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fright


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for fright


Middle English, going back to Old English fyrhtu, fyrtho, fryhto (Northumbrian) "fear, dread, source of dread," going back to Germanic *furhtīn- (whence also Gothic faurhtei), noun derivative of *furhta- "frightened, fearful" (whence Old English forht "frightened," Old Saxon foraht, foroht, Old High German forht, foraht, Gothic faurhts), probably going back to Indo-European *pr̥k-to-, adjective from a verbal base *pr̥k-, whence also Tocharian A & B pärsk- "be afraid" (going back to *pr̥k-sk-)

Note: Germanic nouns derived directly from the adjective include Old Frisian fruchte "fear," Old Saxon forhta, Old High German forahta. Indo-European *p(e)rk- is taken by some to be a "root extension" of a hypothetical base *per- "test, risk," which would connect it to fear entry 1; see note at peril entry 1.


Middle English frighten, going back to Old English fyrhtan, going back to Germanic *furhtjan- (whence also Old Saxon forhtian "to fear, shy away from," Old High German forahten, furhten, Gothic faurhtjan), verbal derivative of *furhta- "frightened, fearful" — more at fright entry 1

Note: The causative meaning of the Old English verb is not reflected in the other Germanic forms; Old English also has a weak verb of a different class, forhtian "to fear, be afraid."

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Phrases Related to fright

look a fright

take fright

Statistics for fright

Last Updated

27 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for fright

The first known use of fright was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for fright



English Language Learners Definition of fright

: fear caused by sudden danger : sudden fear

: a feeling of sudden fear

: something that looks strange, shocking, ugly, etc.


\ˈfrīt \

Kids Definition of fright

1 : sudden terror : great fear

2 : something that frightens or is ugly or shocking You look a fright! What happened?

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Comments on fright

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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