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

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

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Cite this Entry

“Petrified.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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


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