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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of frighten in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

News of the raids has left many undocumented immigrants frightened. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things to know for July 15: Trump tweets, Barry, immigration," 15 July 2019 Having had the ear of a number of owners in his career, Graves went into what frightens owners in the hiring process. Robert Klemko, SI.com, "How One Agent Is Working to Strengthen Diversity in the NFL’s Head Coaching Ranks," 15 July 2019 News of the raids has left many undocumented immigrants frightened. Htv National Desk, Houston Chronicle, "Reports: ICE has begun raids to round up undocumented migrants," 14 July 2019 An aging elite must contend with a vocal, far-left cadre of social-justice warriors, even as the majority depends on legislators who don’t frighten moderates. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "Pelosi’s House of Pain," 13 July 2019 Important, especially if your dog doesn’t get along well with other pets or may be aggressive if frightened during a disaster. Terry Gardner, latimes.com, "Earthquake preparedness tips — for your pets: How to keep them safe," 13 July 2019 However, the trail’s reputation for eccentrics, Eberhart says, is not something that should frighten away first-timers. Eric Barton, Outside Online, "This Florida Thru-Hike Is Not for the Faint of Heart," 10 July 2019 Since its inception, carnaval celebrations here are ruled mercilessly by a handful of local children who cover themselves with bedsheets and ghastly masks while running around and frightening the evil spirits straight out of town. Stephanie Foden, National Geographic, "This Brazilian region is an African treasure on the other side of the Atlantic," 18 Mar. 2019 The quake triggered a tsunami warning and frightened people poured out of their homes to move to higher ground, particularly in North Lombok and Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara province. Ros Idin, The Seattle Times, "At least 91 dead after quake rocks Indonesian tourist island," 6 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about frighten

Statistics for frighten

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for frighten

The first known use of frighten was in 1630

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up frighten? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

something desired as essential

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!