petrify

verb

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

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 youMartin Levin

intransitive verb

: to become stone or of stony hardness or rigidity

Examples of petrify in a Sentence

the processes that petrify wood The dead tree petrified into stone.
Recent Examples on the Web People were petrified of being rendered obsolete and losing their jobs. Ann Kowal Smith, Forbes, 30 Mar. 2024 Danvers is a person that has absolutely frozen herself, petrified herself, hardened herself. Kate Aurthur, Variety, 19 Feb. 2024 It was famously said to have been rated R simply for being so scary, and James Wan petrifies us with little more than hands clapping. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 6 Sep. 2023 Even so, our country’s asphalt limbs have mostly ceased to elongate, petrified into something like their eternal shape. Ben Goldfarb, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 Nor is there a state report documenting what happened at Heritage Village when a resident knocked over a woman in a wheelchair, scared employees into locking themselves in a bathroom and petrified another resident in the common area. Sahana Jayaraman, AZCentral.com, 27 June 2023 But Bach is petrified of losing favor with Putin. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2023 This arrangement worked – partly because Denise is petrified of flying and couldn’t stomach a long haul flight to Australia. Francesca Street, CNN, 29 Mar. 2023 Also worrisome to Spribille is that his own students are petrified of being wrong, a psychological state incompatible with breakthroughs. Erica Gies, Scientific American, 1 June 2017

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

Word History

Etymology

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-

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near petrify

Cite this Entry

“Petrify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/petrify. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

petrify

verb
pet·​ri·​fy ˈpe-trə-ˌfī How to pronounce petrify (audio)
petrified; petrifying
1
: to convert into stone or a stony substance by the penetration of water and the depositing of minerals which were dissolved in the water
petrified wood
2
: to make lifeless or inactive : deaden
3
: to paralyze with fear, amazement, or awe : stun

Medical Definition

petrify

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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to become stone or like stone

More from Merriam-Webster on petrify

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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