fright·​ful | \ ˈfrīt-fəl How to pronounce frightful (audio) \

Definition of frightful

1 : causing intense fear or alarm : terrifying
2 : startling especially in being bad or objectionable a frightful novel
3 : extreme frightful thirst

Other Words from frightful

frightfully \ ˈfrīt-​fə-​lē How to pronounce frightful (audio) \ adverb
frightfulness noun

Examples of frightful in a Sentence

As he fell, he let out a frightful scream. a frightful illness that causes extreme pain The children made a frightful mess of the kitchen. Many critics have expressed shock at the song's frightful lyrics.
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Recent Examples on the Web The weather outside might be frightful, but fans of the Netflix hit Emily in Paris are busy dreaming of the French Riviera, thanks to the show's second season, which heads to sunny St. Tropez. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 5 Jan. 2022 The weather outside might be frightful -- or at least the threat of wintry weather remains -- but many people are planning ahead for the 2022 boating season. Carol Kovach, cleveland, 4 Jan. 2022 When the weather outside is frightful, few things are more delightful than a winter getaway – which is especially needed after a stressful holiday season. Katie Chang, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 The weather outside is frightful, and the weather inside is no different. The New Yorker, 2 Dec. 2021 The weather may have been frightful but the floats, bands and crowds were delightful Thursday as Detroit kicked off the holiday season with its annual America's Thanksgiving Day Parade downtown. Alanna Williams, Detroit Free Press, 26 Nov. 2021 Depending on the weather, that can either be a breeze or a frightful ordeal. Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2021 If the weather outside is frightful, cozy up inside with these glittery snowflake candleholders. Sarah Lemire, Better Homes & Gardens, 12 Nov. 2021 The experience is put on by Kraken rum so, at the very least, the cocktails won't be frightful. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, 26 Oct. 2021

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

1607, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for frightful

fright entry 1 + -ful entry 1

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Time Traveler for frightful

Time Traveler

The first known use of frightful was in 1607

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Dictionary Entries Near frightful

frighten to death


fright wig

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Statistics for frightful

Last Updated

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Frightful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for frightful



English Language Learners Definition of frightful

: causing fear
: very bad or shocking
: very strong


fright·​ful | \ ˈfrīt-fəl How to pronounce frightful (audio) \

Kids Definition of frightful

1 : causing fear or alarm a frightful scream
2 : shocking sense 1, outrageous a frightful mess

Other Words from frightful

frightfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on frightful

Nglish: Translation of frightful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of frightful for Arabic Speakers


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