frighten

verb
fright·​en | \ ˈfrī-tᵊn How to pronounce frighten (audio) \
frightened; frightening\ ˈfrī-​tᵊn-​iŋ How to pronounce frightening (audio) , ˈfrīt-​niŋ \

Definition of frighten

transitive verb

1 : to make afraid : terrify The movie scene frightened the child.
2 : to drive or force by frightening frightened the boy into confessing

intransitive verb

: to become frightened She doesn't frighten easily.

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Other Words from frighten

frighteningly \ ˈfrī-​tᵊn-​iŋ-​lē How to pronounce frighteningly (audio) , ˈfrīt-​niŋ-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for frighten

Synonyms

affright, alarm (also alarum), fright, horrify, panic, scare, scarify, shock, spook, startle, terrify, terrorize

Antonyms

reassure

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Examples of frighten in a Sentence

The story really frightened me. The child was badly frightened by the mask.

Recent Examples on the Web

Nyong'o worked with longtime stylist Micaela Erlanger to assemble the much talked-about Us press tour wardrobe, which has fans delighted, frightened, and glued to Instagram to see what's next. Glamour, "We Need to Talk About Lupita Nyong'o's Us Promo Looks," 28 Mar. 2019 Fast-forward 15 years later, and Cali and Noelle are thoroughly frightening the world in Peele's Us. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Whoa: The Creepy Twins From Us Played Ross and Rachel's Baby on Friends," 26 Mar. 2019 Last month, an Abington man frightened residents when he was spotted with an AR-15. Julie Shaw, Philly.com, "Man who allegedly told brother, 12, to grab assault rifle in Bridesburg dispute to face trial," 17 May 2018 Despite a restraining order requiring him to surrender his weapons, Neal routinely frightened his neighbors in remote Rancho Tehama Reserve by firing guns in the air. Dale Kasler, Anita Chabria And Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "'Nobody had to die.' Neighbors say Tehama sheriff ignored year of terror before shootings | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Apr. 2018 This gem of a book manages to be an anatomy of our frightening digital age, a meditation on friendship, an exploration of the loneliness of military life and a love story—all so effortlessly. WSJ, "Who Read What in 2018: Fiction and Literature," 10 Dec. 2018 Shark attacks are frightening at best, and terribly tragic at worst. Cassie Shortsleeve, Condé Nast Traveler, "Should I Worry About Sharks in the Northeast?," 21 Sep. 2018 Scary dreams are, well, scary, both for the adults who worry about what’s frightening their children and for the youngsters who think their nightmares are real. Rachel Spector, Msw, miamiherald, "Here's how to chase away your child's scary dreams | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018 However, despite their marital struggles, Ben and Vivien unite by the end of the season to protect other human couples from what's in the house, frightening off a family that moves in after them and saving their lives in the process. Claire Dodson, Teen Vogue, "Classic "American Horror Story" Characters Are Coming Back for "Apocalypse"," 31 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frighten.' 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 frighten

1630, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for frighten

fright entry 1 + -en entry 2

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Statistics for frighten

Last Updated

14 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for frighten

The first known use of frighten was in 1630

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More Definitions for frighten

frighten

verb

English Language Learners Definition of frighten

: to cause (someone) to become afraid
: to become afraid

frighten

verb
fright·​en | \ ˈfrī-tᵊn How to pronounce frighten (audio) \
frightened; frightening

Kids Definition of frighten

: to make afraid : terrify

Other Words from frighten

frighteningly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on frighten

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with frighten

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for frighten

Spanish Central: Translation of frighten

Nglish: Translation of frighten for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frighten for Arabic Speakers

Comments on frighten

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