pet·​ri·​fy·​ing ˈpe-trə-ˌfī-iŋ How to pronounce petrifying (audio)
: overwhelmingly frightening
"We have not made one decision on what to do yet. It's worse than scary. It's absolutely petrifying."Chris Spirou
What may be a petrifying experience for a child might seem trivial for you.The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah)
petrifyingly adverb
a petrifyingly dangerous situation

Examples of petrifying in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Take, for instance, Edward Scissorhands (1990), where a humanoid with scissors for hands proves to be more pure than petrifying. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 17 Oct. 2023 Amid the high stakes of a health crisis, the wall of language can make a scary situation downright petrifying. Sixteen Ramos, USA TODAY, 11 Aug. 2023

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

Word History


from present participle of petrify

First Known Use

1782, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of petrifying was in 1782

Dictionary Entries Near petrifying

Cite this Entry

“Petrifying.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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