petrify

verb
pet·​ri·​fy | \ˈpe-trə-ˌfī \
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

In the days leading up to 500 qualifying, he was petrified for his team. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar midseason review, Part I: What’s gone right," 14 June 2018 Christy and Brian, petrified that the twins would smother, took turns staying awake round-the-clock to watch them. Anndee Hochman, Philly.com, "The Parent Trip: Christy and Brian Fitzpatrick of Upper Dublin," 4 July 2018 As a 12-year-old girl, Phoenix Moncada was petrified and confused by the physical changes of puberty – and resorted to cutting, or self-mutilation, over and over again. Samantha Young, sacbee, "Should ‘gender-affirming health care’ be on the radar for California’s foster kids?," 2 July 2018 Both singers felt insecure about their lack of education, neither could read sheet music, and while Jones was petrified of drowning, Franklin feared airplanes. Jeff Maysh, Smithsonian, "The Counterfeit Queen of Soul," 28 June 2018 In a scholarship application, Nelson wrote: There is nothing more petrifying than having to sleep on the wet, cold, hard surface of a train station. Julia Preszler, BostonGlobe.com, "Determination drives Lynn Tech’s Nelson from homeless to scholarship winner," 8 June 2018 Elmer lived with her abusive partner from 1990 to 2000, petrified of leaving, in part because of his large stockpile of weapons. Rebecca Asoulin, The Christian Science Monitor, "#MeToo's next challenge: domestic gun violence," 19 Apr. 2018 Its dinosaur fossils, petrified remains, and early bird specimens number in the thousands. Ginny Mohler, Smithsonian, "Ten Chinese Museums Where You Can See a Dinosaur Fossil Up Close," 18 Apr. 2018 Scan the program for the Summer Olympics, and there’s very little that would petrify anyone’s mother. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "With sports like luge, skeleton and snowboarding, death never far at the Winter Olympics," 12 Feb. 2018

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 French petrifier, from petr- + -ifier -ify

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Statistics for petrify

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Time Traveler for petrify

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

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More Definitions for petrify

petrify

verb

English Language Learners Definition of petrify

: to make (someone) very afraid

: 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 \
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 \
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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