\ ˈfrīt How to pronounce fright (audio) \

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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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

Noun Her eyes were wide with fright. people in our neighborhood think that that orange and green office building is a hideous fright Verb a ghastly sight that would fright even the most stouthearted soul
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun SeaWorld Orlando will add an extra layer of fright to Halloween this year with Howl-O-Scream, an after-hours, extra-ticket event with haunted houses, scare zones and other spooky activities. Dewayne Bevil,, 4 June 2021 Her words released a reservoir of tears that Lawrence did not expect but that epitomized the fright and helplessness that engulfed him. NBC News, 11 May 2021 For many people, the last year was full of fright and uncertainty. Wendy Fox Weber,, 11 May 2021 Taking fright, however, was not in his character, Mr. Putsila said in an interview at the office of Nexta, the opposition news organization where Mr. Protasevich established himself as one of Mr. Lukashenko’s most effective and unbending critics. New York Times, 25 May 2021 Some fish lived in the lake that could create fright, such as the Labdan sturgeon, which had a decidedly not very reassuring appearance and was truly remarkable in size. Jim Dobson, Forbes, 16 May 2021 Despite her fright there was a heavy undertone of musk: the dim lighting, the sinister yet sensual score, the way the camera lingered on the girl's chest, heaving in a strapless gingham dress. Ew Staff,, 4 May 2021 People under the influence of psychedelic drugs risk suffering from delusions, panic, and sense of fright, or experience bouts of paranoia., 16 Apr. 2021 Suspense, intrigue, and pure fright can be conjured with a simple melody or pounding beat. Natalie Morin,, 12 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for fright

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

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Statistics for fright

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fright.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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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
old-fashioned : something that looks strange, shocking, ugly, etc.


\ ˈfrīt How to pronounce fright (audio) \

Kids Definition of fright

1 : sudden terror : great fear
2 : something that frightens or is ugly or shocking You look a fright! What happened?

More from Merriam-Webster on fright

Nglish: Translation of fright for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fright for Arabic Speakers


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