ter·​ri·​fy ˈter-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce terrify (audio)
terrified; terrifying

transitive verb

: to drive or impel by menacing : scare
: to fill with terror

Examples of terrify in a Sentence

The thought of dying alone terrifies her. the prospect of speaking in front of a huge crowd of people absolutely terrifies me
Recent Examples on the Web This terrifies Israel and the surrounding nations in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia. Justin Gomez, ABC News, 13 Sep. 2023 If dissolving into a nameless swarm sounds terrifying, don’t be scared, babygirl. Alex Quicho, WIRED, 11 Sep. 2023 Meanwhile, news of a rogue violent bull on the loose terrifies the community. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 7 Sep. 2023 Richard might not be to blame, but he is set on getting to the bottom of what went wrong—no matter how terrifying the experience may be. The Editors, Town & Country, 6 Sep. 2023 The truck crew are understandably terrified as shellfire explodes close to their vehicle. Sébastien Roblin, Popular Mechanics, 6 Sep. 2023 The 84-year-old’s lawyers claim that he was awakened from his sleep and terrified, believing Yarl to be an intruder, and shot him in self-defense. Clay County Judge Louis Angles ruled Thursday there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 Coming out can be terrifying for many transgender kids. Timmy Broderick, Scientific American, 24 Aug. 2023 The stories from survivors who fled the fast-moving flames terrified her. Compiled By Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Latin terrificare, from terrificus

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of terrify was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near terrify

Cite this Entry

“Terrify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrify. Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


ter·​ri·​fy ˈter-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce terrify (audio)
terrified; terrifying
: to fill with terror

More from Merriam-Webster on terrify

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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