jump scare

noun

variants or less commonly jump-scare or jumpscare
plural jump scares also jump-scares or jumpscares
: a scripted moment (as in a film or video game) intended to startle the audience
The biggest jolts in "The Omen" … come from conventionally staged jump scares, where a nasty image suddenly flashes on the screen accompanied by a startling sound effect.Li Wang
… differentiates itself from other VR [=virtual reality] horror games by not resorting to cheap jump-scares, instead flexing its brilliant visuals to build an atmospheric sense of foreboding.Chris Button

Examples of jump scare in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Nash’s unorthodox style is most welcome in a canon grown tired and lazy in its over-reliance on tacky jump scares and preposterous twists. Randy Myers, The Mercury News, 29 May 2024 But Flanagan is also great at providing drama along with his jump scares. Kevin Jacobsen and Sarah Perchikoff, EW.com, 21 May 2024 The trailer sets up the sorcery students’ early days as college roommates, which includes lighthearted pranks and jump scares. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 15 May 2024 Living alongside the Vision Pro has almost become one big jump scare. Brenda Stolyar, WIRED, 20 Apr. 2024 The style of the film has proven massively influential as well: Tourneur was a pioneer of the jump scare, for one, creating a template that's since been copied by countless horror filmmakers. Katie Rife, EW.com, 19 Oct. 2023 Otherwise, Immaculate relies on jump scares to jolt audiences out of its slumber-inducing plot. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 Mar. 2024 At one point, there was even a jump scare, for some reason. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 Where the previous Christie adaptations felt by the book, Venice startles at every turn and isn't afraid of jump scares and genuine moments of horror. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 9 Sep. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1986, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of jump scare was in 1986

Dictionary Entries Near jump scare

Cite this Entry

“Jump scare.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jump%20scare. Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

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