Definition of petrify
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
: 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 of petrify from the Web
Is that what’s happening when Essun notices tooth marks on Alabaster’s crumbly petrifying flesh?
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
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
PETRIFY Defined for English Language Learners
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
Definition of petrify for Students
1 : to change plant or animal matter into stone or something like stone petrified wood
2 : to frighten very much Lightning petrifies me.
Medical Definition of petrify
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).