frighten

verb
fright·​en | \ ˈfrī-tᵊn \
frightened; frightening\ ˈfrī-​tᵊn-​iŋ , 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 , 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

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 The building's roof was beginning to collapse when firefighter Michael White heard frightened voices and spotted a woman and her three children screaming for help. Kevin Litten, NOLA.com, "Flooding closes Bonnet Carre Spillway Road in St. Charles Parish," 3 Mar. 2018 On the flip side, a less tractable cat (say, one who growls or hisses when frightened) may scratch and claw her way out of your lap to avoid the procedure. Dr. Rob Sharp, Country Living, "Can I Cut My Cat's Nails at Home?," 10 Mar. 2010 Some of the largely Honduran migrants were frightened when about 500 people in an affluent district of Tijuana staged angry protests Sunday against the caravan. Julie Watson, The Seattle Times, "Caravan migrants weigh options after court blocks Trump ban," 20 Nov. 2018 But most congressional Republicans are frightened of Mr Trump’s supporters and keen to hold the line against the Democrats, who are gunning for their jobs in the mid-term elections in November. The Economist, "Trump demands that those investigating him be investigated," 24 May 2018 Zimmer and the friend are not OHS students, but an OHS student saw the video, was frightened by it and reported it to police. Steven Martinez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Man who threatened to shoot up Oconomowoc High School as 'a joke' gets probation, community service," 18 June 2018 The Grand Guignol — whose dark and lurid stage shows (with fake blood spurting) were designed to frighten its audiences — neatly matched Dr. Gordon’s interests in theatrical history and grotesque cultural phenomena. Richard Sandomir, BostonGlobe.com, "Mel Gordon, drama scholar of the fringe; 71," 31 Mar. 2018 Some haunt operators are still frightened by the idea of touching guests. Valerie Bauerlein, WSJ, "New Immersive Haunted Houses Mean More Thrills for Guests—More Rules for Zombies," 26 Oct. 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

3 Feb 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 \
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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