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)

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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

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 White women are raped at a rate of 17.7 percent, while 11.9 percent of Latina women are raped, 18.8 percent of black women, and a startling 34.1 percent of Native American women. Hannah Brashers, Allure, "What to Expect When Reporting a Sexual Assault to Law Enforcement," 12 Apr. 2019 Including Howe in this bicentennial list may startle readers unaccustomed to thinking of her as a major literary figure. Elaine Showalter, The New York Review of Books, "Whitman, Melville, & Julia Ward Howe: A Tale of Three Bicentennials," 27 May 2019 Then in 2014, Houston startled mathematicians by showing that for n = 6, the pattern breaks down. Quanta Magazine, "Mystery Math Whiz and Novelist Advance Permutation Problem," 5 Nov. 2018 The employee at the drive-thruwas startled by the horse and asked the family to come inside to place an order, said a Starbucks spokesperson. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Arizona teen, horse refused service at Starbucks drive-thru get second chance," 7 Mar. 2018 As presented in chamber orchestra guise, this late Haydn masterpiece sounded uncommonly fresh, so vividly did the conductor rethink rhythms, harmonies and gestures that would have startled audiences of Haydn’s day. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Avi Avital's brilliant debut highlights lively, engaging CSO program," 8 June 2018

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.

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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

5 Jul 2019

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 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.

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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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