star·​tling | \ ˈstärt-liŋ How to pronounce startling (audio) , ˈstär-tᵊl-iŋ\

Definition of startling

: causing momentary fright, surprise, or astonishment a startling discovery

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Other Words from startling

startlingly adverb

Examples of startling in a Sentence

Startling new evidence came to light during the trial. He made a startling discovery. It is a city of startling contrasts.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale wrapped up on a startling and divisive note, as June (Elisabeth Moss) was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to escape the waking nightmare that is Gilead... and turned it down. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Handmaid's Tale," 5 June 2019 Across the ottoman, the jacket of her uniform lay in a heap, the dragon appliquéd on its back a startling red. Laila Lalami,, "Who gets to be an American? Laila Lalami explores in California thriller," 3 July 2019 That seemed to come to a startling end with April’s Avengers: Endgame, which didn’t have any additional post-credits scenes. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Spider-Man: Far From Home has two scenes that appear during the credits. (Spoiler alert.)," 2 July 2019 Upon further investigation, Ledbetter found that the anonymous information was true and startling: Ledbetter, who had been working at Goodyear for 19 years, was paid $3,727 per month. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "Lilly Ledbetter: 5 ways to ensure you get equal pay," 1 July 2019 That startling picture emerges from a study published this month in Earth and Planetary Science Letters by a team led by Paulo Vasconcelos, a geochemist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Dinosaur-age landscapes lurk in Southern Hemisphere," 26 June 2019 Whatever your view of Second Amendment jurisprudence, Trump’s flippant comments showed a startling indifference for foundational rights that are enumerated in the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump’s rejection of due process for gun owners points to his disdain for the rule of law," 1 Mar. 2018 In September 2003, she was given five years to live after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer after an unrelated surgery led to the startling discovery. Lisa J. Huriash,, "Lisa Boccard, breast cancer advocate, dies at 57," 10 June 2019 In late January, a drone flight made a startling discovery: Hibiscadelphus woodii, a relative of hibiscus last seen in 2009 and believed to be extinct, was still growing on the cliffside. Kristen Pope, National Geographic, "Extinct flower rediscovered in Hawaii, via drones," 18 Apr. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'startling.' 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 startling

1609, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for startling

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for startling

The first known use of startling was in 1609

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More Definitions for startling



English Language Learners Definition of startling

: very surprising, shocking, or frightening



Kids Definition of startling

: causing a moment of fright or surprise a startling noise a startling discovery

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Comments on startling

What made you want to look up startling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to complain fretfully

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