in·​tim·​i·​date in-ˈti-mə-ˌdāt How to pronounce intimidate (audio)
intimidated; intimidating

transitive verb

: to make timid or fearful : frighten
especially : to compel or deter by or as if by threats
tried to intimidate a witness
intimidation noun
intimidator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for intimidate

intimidate, cow, bulldoze, bully, browbeat mean to frighten into submission.

intimidate implies inducing fear or a sense of inferiority into another.

intimidated by so many other bright freshmen

cow implies reduction to a state where the spirit is broken or all courage is lost.

not at all cowed by the odds against making it in show business

bulldoze implies an intimidating or an overcoming of resistance usually by urgings, demands, or threats.

bulldozed the city council into approving the plan

bully implies intimidation through threats, insults, or aggressive behavior.

bullied into giving up their lunch money

browbeat implies a cowing through arrogant, scornful, or contemptuous treatment.

browbeat the witness into a contradiction

Examples of intimidate in a Sentence

He tries to intimidate his opponents. You shouldn't allow his reputation to intimidate you.
Recent Examples on the Web Digging into every single one of the many Cyber Monday deals alone can be intimidating, considering pretty much everyone is running some sort of special. Jake Smith, Glamour, 27 Nov. 2023 How To Make Caramel-Frosted Pound Cake Making caramel from scratch may be intimidating, but using a thermometer will ensure consistent results every time. Southern Living Test Kitchen, Southern Living, 27 Nov. 2023 Cycling Around the Globe The cycling world can be intimidating. Tammy Lagorce, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2023 The butler’s condescension instantly intimidates Oliver, who evinces no familiarity whatsoever with the ways of high society. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 18 Nov. 2023 The antagonist may be intimidated by a colleague, jealous of their success and wish to cut them down to size. Jack Kelly, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 Willis says Floyd has been trying to intimidate and communicate with witnesses and others defendants, in violation of the conditions of his bond agreement. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports,, 17 Nov. 2023 Members of the public are being mobbed and intimidated. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 13 Nov. 2023 This ghost of slavery that has been invoked has the effect of intimidating those who, from convictions of duty, are seeking to emancipate the enslaved race in this state. Anna Deavere Smith, The Atlantic, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'intimidate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Medieval Latin intimidatus, past participle of intimidare, from Latin in- + timidus timid

First Known Use

1646, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of intimidate was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near intimidate

Cite this Entry

“Intimidate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​tim·​i·​date in-ˈtim-ə-ˌdāt How to pronounce intimidate (audio)
intimidated; intimidating
: to make timid or fearful by or as if by threats
intimidation noun
intimidator noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
in·​tim·​i·​date in-ˈti-mə-ˌdāt How to pronounce intimidate (audio)
intimidated; intimidating
: to make timid or fearful
especially : to compel or deter by or as if by threats see also coercion
: to engage in the crime of intimidating (as a witness, juror, public officer in the performance of his or her duty, or victim of a robbery or other crime)
intimidatingly adverb
intimidation noun
intimidator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on intimidate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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