petrify

verb pet·ri·fy \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfī \

Definition of petrify

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 thinking
  • Saturday 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

Examples of petrify in a Sentence

  1. the processes that petrify wood

  2. The dead tree petrified into stone.

Recent Examples of petrify from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of petrify

Middle French petrifier, from petr- + -ifier -ify


PETRIFY Defined for English Language Learners

petrify

verb

Definition of petrify for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

petrify

verb pet·ri·fy \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfī \

Definition of petrify for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

petrify

verb pet·ri·fy \ ˈpe-trə-ˌfī \

medical Definition of petrify

petrified; petrifying
transitive verb
:to convert (organic matter) into stone or a stony substance
intransitive verb
:to become stone or like stone


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to buzz or drone

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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