startle

verb
star·​tle | \ ˈstär-tᵊl \
startled; startling\ ˈstärt-​liŋ , ˈstär-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of startle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to move or jump suddenly (as in surprise or alarm) the baby startles easily

transitive verb

: to frighten or surprise suddenly and usually not seriously

startle

noun

Definition of startle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a sudden mild shock (as of surprise or alarm)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from startle

Verb

startlement \ ˈstär-​tᵊl-​mənt \ noun

Examples of startle in a Sentence

Verb

I'm sorry that I startled you. the lightning startled the children and sent them scurrying for cover

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This is the track to play at the holiday party to get people moving after the post-Christmas-ham slump, or maybe to simply startle your more conservative side of the family. Natalie Maher, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Best New Christmas Songs of 2018," 12 Nov. 2018 That's the hope, to kind of startle people to their senses about what is going on in this country. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Good Journalism for Hard Times," 18 July 2018 These tiny organisms emit light to startle predators and, some scientists think, to draw the attention of other creatures that eat the original predators. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "The Story Behind Big Sur’s Glowing Waves," 27 Feb. 2018 Many homeowners have been startled this spring by strange growths on juniper trees, sprouting orange tentacles like miniature sea anemones. Beth Botts, chicagotribune.com, "Orange growths on juniper trees signal cedar-apple rust," 30 May 2018 In July, Facebook startled investors with dour growth projections that sent its stock price tumbling. Deepa Seetharaman, WSJ, "Facebook Morale Takes a Tumble Along With Stock Price," 14 Nov. 2018 White and bright colors can startle animals, and black and blue hues attract teste flies, nasty little insects that have a seriously annoying bite. Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, "Your Ultimate African Safari Guide," 12 Nov. 2018 The man's actions between eruptions startled a crowd of a couple hundred people at the park's most famous attraction. Fox News, "Yellowstone tourist ticketed for walking too close, appearing to urinate on Old Faithful," 18 Sep. 2018 This spring, Herman Cornejo (still the company’s most miraculous stylist); Cory Stearns (at his finest in the season’s two final weeks); and James Whiteside (always startling in energy and focus) came nearer to being central artists. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "The Changing Shape of American Ballet Theater," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The kid startles, slams his laptop, and runs out of frame. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Vince Staples makes another dope video, this time in Google Maps," 2 Nov. 2018 Ayton, almost a month away from his 20th birthday, startles as a 7-foot, 260-pound transformer with a 7-5 wingspan who shoots, passes, dribbles, runs, slides and jumps like a wing with a post game. Paul Coro, latimes.com, "Potential No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton says he and Devin Booker could be "Shaq and Kobe 2.0" for Phoenix Suns," 18 June 2018 By the early '90s, psychiatrists treating urban residents were diagnosing sleep disorders, extreme startle responses, flashbacks, lost hope for the future, homelessness, alcoholism, suicide and even biochemical changes in the brain. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With PTSD reaching well beyond combat vets, trauma experts see need for 'healing spaces'," 18 May 2018 And by reducing wild startles, swaddling reduces night wakings. Anya Leon, PEOPLE.com, "5 Tips to Help Your Baby Be a Great Sleeper from Dr. Harvey Karp, Founder of Happiest Baby," 27 Feb. 2018 Who hasn't giggled, eliciting that startle in someone else? Maria Shine Stewart, cleveland.com, "Neighbors can help in times of fun and of fear: Sun Messages," 28 Oct. 2017 Even now, 35 years later, John Williams’ music from E.T. startles with its beauty and directness. Peter Dobrin, Philly.com, "Philly astronaut Bluford gets his props at the Mann - and a soaring orchestral number in his honor," 26 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'startle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of startle

Verb

1530, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun

1603, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for startle

Verb

Middle English stertlen, frequentative of sterten to start

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about startle

Statistics for startle

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for startle

The first known use of startle was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for startle

startle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of startle

: to surprise or frighten (someone) suddenly and usually not seriously
: to move or jump suddenly because something surprises you or frightens you

startle

verb
star·​tle | \ ˈstär-tᵊl \
startled; startling

Kids Definition of startle

1 : to move or jump (as in surprise or fear) The cat startles easily.
2 : to frighten suddenly but slightly A knock on the window startled her.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on startle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for startle

Spanish Central: Translation of startle

Nglish: Translation of startle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of startle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on startle

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Valentine's Day Quiz

  • happy-valentines-day
  • Which word used to mean sweetheart or darling?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!