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)

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Other Words from startle

Verb

startlement \ ˈstär-​tᵊl-​mənt \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for startle

Synonyms: Verb

affright, alarm (also alarum), fright, frighten, horrify, panic, scare, scarify, shock, spook, terrify, terrorize

Antonyms: Verb

reassure

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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

The results were startling: The mortality rate fell to 0.8 percent from 1.5 percent, and surgical complications declined to 7 percent from 11 percent. New York Times, "Surgical Checklists Save Lives — but Once in a While, They Don’t. Why?," 9 May 2018 Amazingly, after being startled a bit by the massive bird of prey coming his way, Paxton seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing. Tim Brown, OregonLive.com, "Watch: Bald eagle lands on James Paxton during Seattle Mariners pregame warmups in wild video," 5 Apr. 2018 What is startling, though, is how much has come in so early, months before Republicans even pick their nominee. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Tammy Baldwin defiant as millions in outside money pours in against her in Senate race," 12 Mar. 2018 The first 911 call came in at 7:07 p.m., as startled onlookers along the East River promenade and in their apartments watched the helicopter descend. Author: Benjamin Mueller, Al Baker, Anchorage Daily News, "After N.Y. helicopter crash, divers had to cut passengers from harnesses. Only the pilot survived.," 12 Mar. 2018 Nevertheless, Wednesday’s outcome was startling because one of the opposing votes came from Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who does not normally buck the White House or GOP leadership. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump lost a battle on family separations, but his immigration war continues," 21 June 2018 The move was startling because Fox has long owned 39% of Sky, and has been struggling since late 2016 to buy the remaining 61%. Meg James, latimes.com, "Brian Roberts has been the force behind Comcast's growth. Now he's in the hunt for Fox," 10 June 2018 The money is still startling, considering that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan recently agreed to a five-year, $150 million contract extension, with $100 million guaranteed, to lead top quarterback earners. Clarence E. Hill Jr., star-telegram, "Dak Prescott not fazed by contract talk, wants to be best QB in Cowboys history | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 16 May 2018 For some, like me, Dear Peter’s whip-crack tartness was startling enough to make my eyes swivel and question its balance. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "2018 Brewvitational standouts: Peter, haze and pucker," 10 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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.

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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

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Statistics for startle

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for startle

The first known use of startle was in 1530

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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.

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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

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