\ 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 Sure, King still owns the fright business like none other, but the iconic author will keep you up late at night engrossed in four tales about our dreams and our frailties. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Review: Stephen King masterfully explores our dreams, frailties in 'If It Bleeds' collection," 21 Apr. 2020 To a popular culture that laps up creepy zombie movies, the virus certainly knows how to use its greatest weapons: fright and panic. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "The Great Coronavirus War Is upon Us," 12 Mar. 2020 The second hayride, The Haunted Experience, is designed for children ages 7 and older as a fright and fun experience. Susan Harrison,, "Belmont Manor in Elkridge hosting Monster Mash Murders," 10 Oct. 2019 Dewayne offers strategies for newbies uncertain if the extreme frights and buckets of blood are for them. Orlando Sentinel Podcasts,, "PODCAST: Disney villains join the lineup of theme park special events (Ep. 6)," 3 July 2019 The Gospel of Luke has the male disciples dismissing the women's report of the resurrection and getting the fright of their lives in return. Bonnie Kristian, TheWeek, "Coronavirus and the mystery of St. Mark's Easter story," 12 Apr. 2020 Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder that causes distortion in thoughts, hallucinations and feelings of fright and paranoia. Washington Post, "New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods rose only slightly in November," 23 Dec. 2019 Opening fright: The baseball season begins in just more than two weeks and includes games in Seattle. Staff And News Services,, "Virus impact on U.S. sports grows; more restrictions in Europe," 10 Mar. 2020 The travel industry is trying to fight off fright from the continuing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, with airlines looking to reassure passengers and customers who are questioning plans. Dallas News, "As coronavirus spreads, what travelers need to know about travel insurance, waivers and cancellations," 2 Mar. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fright

Last Updated

6 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fright.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for fright


How to pronounce fright (audio)

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?

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More from Merriam-Webster on fright

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fright

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fright

Spanish Central: Translation of fright

Nglish: Translation of fright for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fright for Arabic Speakers

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