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

Remember that bears are probably more scared of and startled by you. Kristi Belcamino, Twin Cities, "Authorities warn of bear spotted in Ramsey County," 9 Sep. 2019 Leavelle, wearing a light-colored suit, leans back, startled by the gunshot, looking directly into Ruby's face. al, "Detective who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald dies at 99," 30 Aug. 2019 The smugglers’ road north Mr. Sasvin Dominguez woke suddenly, startled by an idea. Azam Ahmed, New York Times, "Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out.," 18 Aug. 2019 He was quickly met with another homeowner also startled by the tall middle-aged man dressed in a blue uniform and badge. San Diego Union-Tribune, "California’s not enforcing wildfire-prevention rules for homeowners, leaving tens of thousands of properties vulnerable to big blazes," 7 July 2019 The Fourth of July is a peak time for runaway dogs, who often take off when startled by the loud explosions. Tanya Edwards, BostonGlobe.com, "Here’s how to keep your pets from freaking out during summer fireworks," 26 June 2019 As the boys walked, they were startled when a stranger emerged out of nowhere — and attempted to block the kids in a stairwell. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "Man Recounts Fleeing as Child From 'Atlanta Monster' Suspect Wayne Williams: 'He Was on a Mission’," 25 July 2019 What has been startling during workouts is the quiet of these football players at work. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Why the real breakout star of Broncos camp is 60-year-old dude hiding his gut under a sweatshirt," 20 July 2019 The contrast with their free-wheeling 1969 Woodstock concert is startling. Mara Reinstein, Billboard, "'David Crosby: Remember My Name' Is a Bittersweet, Insightful Look at a Legend in His Final Act: Review," 10 July 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

13 Sep 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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