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 But Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Matt Olson still make up an intimidating 2-3-4 combo, and Sean Hjelle made quick work of them in the eighth inning. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 3 July 2024 He was indicted on 16 new charges, including witness intimidation and conspiracy to intimidate a witness, in December. Cybele Mayes-Osterman, USA TODAY, 1 July 2024 An enigmatic powerhouse with a reputation for being a force to be reckoned with, Miranda Priestly embodies the essence of Scorpio with her intimidating intensity and unwavering determination. Valerie Mesa, Peoplemag, 30 June 2024 On the hunt for a more sophisticated shoe that doesn’t have an intimidating stiletto heel? Stephanie Andrade, StyleCaster, 28 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for intimidate 

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 15 Jul. 2024.

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

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