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

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Other Words from frightful

frightfully \ ˈfrīt-​fə-​lē How to pronounce frightfully (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 unique and gorgeous cat had been pretty frightful due to her ordeal, which led her to not trust people. Arizona Republic, azcentral, "A dog that squeals like a pig and more up for adoption in Phoenix-area shelters this week," 21 June 2019 And what about all those frightful fantasies of being overrun by copies of ourselves? Karen Weintraub, Discover Magazine, "Cloning's Long Legacy — And Why It'll Never Be Used on Humans," 29 Apr. 2019 If extrapolated to large industrialized societies comprising millions, even a few cases in a small group would translate to a frightful rate of violent deaths. John Hawks, WSJ, "‘The Goodness Paradox’ Review: The Benefits of Good Breeding," 25 Jan. 2019 The winter weather outside might be frightful, but cozying up inside with our fave Christmas movies on Netflix and some snacks is always delightful. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Christmas Movies on Netflix You Can Stream During the Holidays," 19 Dec. 2018 By anchoring it in real life, at least until that final scene, the movie’s costumes make the dizzying nightmares all the more intense and frightful. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Suspira’s Costume Designer on Making Dresses Out of Hair and Redefining ’70s Style as Something Chicly Horrifying," 23 Oct. 2018 The result was anything but frightful; rather, the tale became a nuanced look at the process of boys coming of age. Alexandra Gekas, Woman's Day, "12 Best Movies Based on Books," 2 Aug. 2010 By next Christmas, the weather outside could be even more frightful. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Commodity Woes Run Deeper Than China," 28 Nov. 2018 Implying that disability is scary or should be frightful to people, others reminded, is offensive. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Why It's Not OK to Dress Up as Someone With a Disability for Halloween," 15 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for frightful

Last Updated

24 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for frightful

The first known use of frightful was in 1607

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More Definitions for frightful



English Language Learners Definition of frightful

somewhat old-fashioned
: 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

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Comments on frightful

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