fright·​en·​ing ˈfrī-tᵊn-iŋ How to pronounce frightening (audio)
: causing fear
frightening news
a very frightening experience
The man with red eyes made the frightening grimace that passed for his smile.Madeleine L'Engle
For a man who had tussled with crocs, venomous snakes and other frightening creatures, this was going to be a leisurely swim.Jennifer Wulff et al.

Word History


from present participle of frighten

First Known Use

1652, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of frightening was in 1652

Dictionary Entries Near frightening

Cite this Entry

“Frightening.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on frightening

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