\ 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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The fright fest also will include five scare zones, which have yet been indentified, and two live shows, which also have not been revealed. Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel, 26 July 2022 And to pull back the film’s own Pennywisian mask of derivative fright-making is to find nothing much underneath. A.a. Dowd, Rolling Stone, 23 June 2022 He was knocked out and remembers coming to and getting a fright as people were grabbing at him. Charmaine Patterson,, 14 June 2022 Instead, Kavanaugh has become the plastic skeleton in the Judiciary Committee’s closet that gets dragged out for one too many holidays — a mascot more than a fright. Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2022 The best Halloween movies for kids meet them at their preferred fright level. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2022 So, amidst the fright, Googlegeist did have some bright spots. Sheryl Estrada, Fortune, 16 Mar. 2022 Bialystok padded in fright like a Christmas star stored away in its box. New York Times, 10 Feb. 2022 Elgin officials are putting out a call for volunteers to help stage Nightmare on Chicago Street, the annual Halloween fright fest that recreates a zombie apocalypse on the city’s downtown streets. Gloria Casas, Chicago Tribune, 5 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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Dictionary Entries Near fright



fright disease

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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fright.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for fright


\ 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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