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 The most startling allegation: That the entire thing was an attempt to distract from the investigation into the assassination of critical journalist Daphne Carauna Galizia. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Credit Karma customers report problems withdrawing money from new savings accounts," 22 Jan. 2020 But his language is itself firsthand experience of the most startling intensity, variety, and durability. Dan Chiasson, The New Yorker, "Tommy Pico Filibusters Mortality with Poetry," 6 Jan. 2020 That’s a small percentage of its overall rides but a startling number for the public. Dallas News, "What to watch in 2020: Can Uber keep its promise to Dallas?," 1 Jan. 2020 Among the most startling piece of evidence presented by prosecutors was a thumping rap video that Insys made for its sales staff in 2015 to prod employees to get more doctors to prescribe Subsys, and in higher doses., "Federal prosecutors want John N. Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, to serve 15 years in prison for his part in a conspiracy to get doctors to prescribe the company’s highly addictive opioid painkiller.," 27 Dec. 2019 An enticing corner of the monument is the Heart of Rocks, a loop through the most startling formations. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "The best things to do in Arizona in 2020: A month-by-month guide to big adventures," 27 Dec. 2019 That helped us be the first to reveal one of Bevin’s most startling decisions: Pardoning Patrick Baker two years into his 19-year sentence for killing Donald Mills in a Knox County home invasion and robbery. Richard A. Green, The Courier-Journal, "'Dig deep': Matt Bevin challenged us to scrutinize his pardons. We've done that and more," 20 Dec. 2019 Perhaps the most startling example emerged this week, after a photo of 4-year-old Jack Williment-Barr, forced to sleep on the floor of a hospital amid a lack of available beds, quickly became a top story in Britain. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "Dishonesty and dirty tactics define Britain’s election," 12 Dec. 2019 The startling numbers compound findings of a previous investigation by an outside law firm, Perkins Coie. Fox News, "Ohio State report finds nearly 1,500 sexual misconduct claims against late team doctor," 2 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for startling

Time Traveler

The first known use of startling was in 1609

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Statistics for startling

Last Updated

3 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Startling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for startling


How to pronounce startling (audio)

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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