pet·​ri·​fied | \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfīd How to pronounce petrified (audio) \

Definition of petrified

1 : converted into stone through a slow process of mineralization petrified wood a petrified forest And at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History's annual dinosaur ball, about 800 patrons in black tie or gown waltz among the petrified remains of the once-glorious creatures.— Sheldon Teitelbaum
2 : overwhelmingly fearful was petrified of speaking in public : rendered motionless or unable to act by fear Charlie climbed onto the bed and tried to calm the three old people who were still petrified with fear. "Please don't be frightened," he said. "It's quite safe. And we're going to the most wonderful place in the world!"— Roald Dahl Winky's petrified brown eyes were visible through her fingers. She seemed too appalled to speak.— J. K. Rowling

First Known Use of petrified

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for petrified

from past participle of petrify

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about petrified

Time Traveler for petrified

Time Traveler

The first known use of petrified was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for petrified

Cite this Entry

“Petrified.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for petrified


How to pronounce petrified (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of petrified

: very afraid or frightened of something : unable to move or act because you are afraid
used to describe something (such as wood) that has slowly changed into stone or a substance like stone over a very long period of time

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on petrified

What made you want to look up petrified? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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