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

As a storm startled Seattle, the intense fog caused a major pileup on the freeway, leaving a very pregnant Teddy (Kim Raver) sitting in traffic while in labor. Tomás Mier, PEOPLE.com, "A Charmed Reunion! Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs Will Guest Star on Grey's Anatomy," 16 Sep. 2019 Thunberg speaks with startling clarity about the threat her generation faces and how political leaders have failed the test of leadership. Al Gore, Time, "Al Gore: Youth Activists Are Demanding Action Against Climate Change. It’s Time For Us to Listen," 12 Sep. 2019 In a city marked by startling inequity, leaf cover is just one more thing that has been historically distributed in unequal measure. chicagotribune.com, "No trees, no shade, no relief in cities as climate heats up," 9 Sep. 2019 In a city marked by startling inequity, leaf cover is just one more thing that has been historically distributed in unequal measure. Washington Post, "No trees, no shade, no relief in cities as climate heats up," 5 Sep. 2019 Amid the chaos after the Soviet collapse, Luka Okros, now a 28-year-old pianist, startled his parents by showing signs of genius at the age of four. The Economist, "A culture clash in the Caucasus," 29 Aug. 2019 The potential sale of the Kansas City Royals brings that startling reality to the forefront. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "How much profit might MLB owners make by selling their teams?," 28 Aug. 2019 The vintage taxidermy pieces are startling: Visitors are met by an impala in the dining room, while a brace of flamingos and peacocks flutters feathers in the living room. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "These 6 European Apartments Are Basically Private Design Hotels," 23 Aug. 2019 At one point during the journey, the lamb jumped up on the steering wheel, startling a policeman who’d just pulled up beside Eggers’s car. Fortune, "New Zealand’s Hottest Destination Is One You’ve Likely Never Heard Of," 18 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Landon Hawkins is a riot as dour and petulant sister Mary Bennet, whose lurking startles everyone, and uncomplicatedly upbeat as sister Jane’s suitor Bingley, who’s treated literally like a puppy. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: Shakespeare’s twins, Jane Austen romance delight in Santa Cruz," 31 July 2019 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

11 Oct 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

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