star·​tling | \ˈstärt-liŋ, 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

Second, the 2018 World Cup faces a startling number of security risks — strikingly more than in the past. Richard Arnold, Washington Post, "Russia is hosting this year’s World Cup. What could go wrong?," 14 June 2018 The head of Customs and Border Protection is here to reveal the startling new numbers and absurd and obscene charges against the bureau as well. Fox News, "New data reveals US faces legal immigration crisis," 22 May 2018 Then, in 2005, another spacecraft passing by another moon around another planet made a startling observation. New York Times, "New Dive Into Old Data Finds Plumes Erupt From Jupiter’s Moon Europa," 14 May 2018 Back in the 1890s, a New York City surgeon named William Coley made a startling observation. Greg Kahn, Smithsonian, "Could Immunotherapy Lead the Way to Fighting Cancer?," 22 Mar. 2018 Perhaps the most startling—and hopeful—discovery in Prof. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "You’re a Bad Investor? That Can Be Good," 19 Oct. 2018 The most startling thing about the announcement comes from the three actors drawn from the original Star Wars trilogy. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "Lucasfilm confirms Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill will be in Star Wars: Episode IX," 27 July 2018 So, instead, here are some of the most startling and penetrating quotes from Nanette. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "13 Hannah Gadsby 'Nanette' Quotes You Won't Be Able to Stop Thinking About," 20 July 2018 But the most startling development was from sophomore attackman Ethan Christensen, who built on a 14-goal, 17-assist season in 2017 with a 46-goal, 35-assist effort in 2018. Edward Lee,, "Review & preview: Stevenson men’s lacrosse," 21 June 2018

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

8 Dec 2018

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 enclose within walls

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