\ 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 Every infant they’ve taken has been suffering from trauma, if only from the fright and confusion of being removed from familiar surroundings. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Dale Griffin has learned a thing or two — or 22 — about fatherhood," 16 June 2019 But director Mike Flanagan’s decision to spotlight a deaf protagonist puts a terrifying new spin on the home invasion premise that makes this straight-to-Netflix fright fest a worthy watch. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "The 10 Best Horror Movies on Netflix to Stream Right Now," 30 July 2019 Traders clearly took fright at that development, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 800 points, or 3.1%, on Wednesday — its worst performance of 2019., "Recession fears stalk foreign markets as stocks fall again," 15 Aug. 2019 Although the film is considered more comedy than horror, there will definitely be frights in the house, creators said. Dewayne Bevil,, "Halloween Horror Nights: Universal has long history with Ghostbusters — Remember Robosaurus?," 5 Aug. 2019 Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Howl-O-Scream provide intense fright fests. Dewayne Bevil,, "Dark Horizon: California company stirs up another Halloween event for Orlando," 23 July 2019 But the coalition’s attempt at stimulus last year backfired when markets took fright. The Economist, "How to defuse the threat that Matteo Salvini poses to the euro," 11 July 2019 Princess the cat’s tail was bushy with fright, and Fluffy the dog was barking. Ap Mcclatchy, The Mercury News, "Family finally finds new home many months after Camp Fire disaster," 25 June 2019 Its title implies fright but also winks at the show’s droll tone. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Unique, Comic Alchemy of Los Espookys," 21 June 2019

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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Statistics for fright

Last Updated

27 Sep 2019

Time Traveler for fright

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

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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

Comments on fright

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an agreement to stop fighting a war

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