star·​tling ˈstärt-liŋ How to pronounce startling (audio)
: causing momentary fright, surprise, or astonishment
a startling discovery
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.
Recent Examples on the Web The film starts with a startling confrontation between Angot and her stepmother in Strasbourg, with Angot pushing her way into her stepmother’s apartment with a camera-person and proceeding to question the woman about Angot’s late father’s crimes and the wife’s view on that. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 18 Feb. 2024 The research points to a startling conclusion: Humans have raised global temperatures by a total of about 1.7 degrees Celsius, or 3.1 Fahrenheit, not 1.2 degrees Celsius, as widely suggested until now. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 However, gaming’s disruptive and startling layoffs have precedent. Gene Park, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 Murphy fleshes him out with loaded silences and pained gestures, his pale, expressive eyes conveying a world of hurt, of trauma yanked back to the surface by startling experience. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Feb. 2024 The exhibit ends up feeling like a startling collection of covers, with only a teasing sense of what was written inside. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 14 Feb. 2024 While activists have worked for years to draw attention to diversity within the disability community, particularly in the workplace, a new report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has found some startling differences in how people are treated. Paige McGlauflin, Fortune, 12 Feb. 2024 The Beinecke exhibition doesn’t serve startling revelations. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 8 Feb. 2024 El Salvador is the site of a startling — and, to many liberals, disturbing — political project. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'startling.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1609, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of startling was in 1609

Dictionary Entries Near startling

Cite this Entry

“Startling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on startling

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