petrify

verb
pet·​ri·​fy | \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce petrify (audio) \
petrified; petrifying

Definition of petrify

transitive verb

1 : to convert (organic matter) into stone or a substance of stony hardness by the infiltration of water and the deposition of dissolved mineral matter
2 : to make rigid or inert like stone:
a : to make lifeless or inactive : deaden slogans are apt to petrify a man's thinkingSaturday Rev.
b : to confound with fear, amazement, or awe a novel about an airline pilot that will petrify you— Martin Levin

intransitive verb

: to become stone or of stony hardness or rigidity

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Examples of petrify in a Sentence

the processes that petrify wood The dead tree petrified into stone.
Recent Examples on the Web That’s devastating to the economy, however, and Trump is petrified that the tanking stock market will take his re-election hopes right along with it. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: In postponing Olympics, leaders wise to ignore Trump's call for business as usual," 26 Mar. 2020 Many of the aides who helped people like her dad were petrified. Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, "“Did I Mess This Up?” A Father Dying From Coronavirus, a Distraught Daughter and a Midnight Rescue.," 25 Apr. 2020 Peter is petrified by the idea of keeping someone like Luke in the mix as long as Hannah Brown did. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "The Bachelor Is In A “Genuine & Real” Crisis," 21 Jan. 2020 Because success is petrifying for people, whereas failure is easy to manage. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "“I’m Not Here to Please an Industry, I’m Here to Challenge It”: A Career-Spanning Conversation with Jonathan Anderson," 18 Jan. 2020 But they intersect in Berlin during the depths of the Cold War, when the West was petrified that the Soviets would stage an unprovoked and undetected assault. Steven V. Roberts, Washington Post, "In Cold War Berlin, the Americans had a tunnel, but the Soviets had a mole," 8 Nov. 2019 After a cataclysm petrified them, only their trunks remained. Wired, "A Journey to Galaxy's Edge, the Nerdiest Place on Earth," 18 Nov. 2019 The idea of sitting for days of interviews — just their two faces filling the screen — was petrifying to the Lewises. Los Angeles Times, "Why twin brothers revealed secret child abuse on-camera in Netflix’s ‘Tell Me Who I Am’," 21 Oct. 2019 Gannon announced over 130 winners across the six participating villages, ranging from chilling landscapes to petrifying portraits. BostonGlobe.com, "Hundreds of young students with paint brushes in hand took to Newton’s storefronts Saturday for the 20th annual Halloween Window Painting Contest. They adorned the windows of businesses across six of the city’s villages with spooky scenes of ghosts and graveyards, skeletons and jack-o-lanterns.," 1 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'petrify.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of petrify

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for petrify

Middle English petrifien (as past participle petrified), borrowed from Medieval Latin petrificāre, from Latin petra "rock, boulder, crag" (borrowed from Greek pétra) + -ificāre -ify — more at petro-

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Time Traveler for petrify

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for petrify

Cite this Entry

“Petrify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/petrify. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for petrify

petrify

verb
How to pronounce petrify (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of petrify

: to make (someone) very afraid
technical : to slowly change (something, such as wood) into stone or a substance like stone over a very long period of time

petrify

verb
pet·​ri·​fy | \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce petrify (audio) \
petrified; petrifying

Kids Definition of petrify

1 : to change plant or animal matter into stone or something like stone petrified wood
2 : to frighten very much Lightning petrifies me.

petrify

verb
pet·​ri·​fy | \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce petrify (audio) \
petrified; petrifying

Medical Definition of petrify

transitive verb

: to convert (organic matter) into stone or a stony substance

intransitive verb

: to become stone or like stone

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Comments on petrify

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