startle

verb
star·​tle | \ ˈstär-tᵊl How to pronounce startle (audio) \
startled; startling\ ˈstärt-​liŋ How to pronounce startling (audio) , 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 How to pronounce startlement (audio) \ 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

The pictures and details in this report are startling. Ben Sales, sun-sentinel.com, "Jews who called out Ocasio-Cortez weigh in on detention centers," 9 July 2019 Must-Read Even by the NFL’s standard, the offseason was startling in terms of player movement, both in free agency and via trades. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "5 biggest snubs from Broncos’ all-time Top-100 team," 5 July 2019 Police found the suspect had climbed a crude ladder made from a storage container and a lawn chair to reach the window and had cut the screen before the light startled him. Jesse Leavenworth, courant.com, "Manchester police say stalker caught in the act," 7 June 2019 The reaction to Herro’s de-commitment was startling. Eric Olson, The Seattle Times, "Tyler Herro: Kentucky fans love him, opponents not so much," 30 Mar. 2019 And if there's something that startles her, there's a human to comfort her. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Keepers at Milwaukee County Zoo worked 24/7 to care for baby gorilla after its parents died," 29 June 2018 For example, among males age 15 to 19, the suicide rate dipped slightly from 2000 to 2007, rose just 3.1 percent per year from 2007 to 2014, and then jumped a startling 14.2 percent each year from 2015 to 2017. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Suicides soar among teenagers, Harvard study says," 18 June 2019 Kawhi Leonard's hot hand is sending the Raptors home to Toronto on the cusp of a startling upset for Canada. CBS News, "NBA Finals: Raptors top Warriors 105-92 in Game 4, giving them 3-1 lead in series," 8 June 2019 Kawhi Leonard's hot hand is sending the Raptors home to Toronto on the cusp of a startling upset for Canada. Janie Mcauley, chicagotribune.com, "Raptors 1 win away from a title after beating the Warriors 105-92 behind Kawhi Leonard's 36 points," 8 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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

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

19 Jul 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 How to pronounce startle (audio) \
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

to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!