ter·​ri·​fy | \ ˈter-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce terrify (audio) , ˈte-rə- \
terrified; terrifying

Definition of terrify

transitive verb

1a : to drive or impel by menacing : scare
2 : to fill with terror

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Synonyms & Antonyms for terrify



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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 John Caniglia reports that this eliminates a major check on the city’s power, in a series on the police chases that terrify this city. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, 28 Sep. 2021 Someone wrote that nobody but Shirley Jackson could terrify you with the scene of a picnic on a lawn. BostonGlobe.com, 2 Sep. 2021 The idea of growing old as a gay man used to terrify me. Washington Post, 24 Sep. 2021 Now available in a new recording, Jojo Moyes’s 2009 novel may terrify listeners who are renovating their houses — but everyone else should enjoy it immensely. Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2021 That’s a straight-up and down branch, and exactly the sort of thing that would terrify the TVA. Chris Smith, BGR, 1 July 2021 While the many shells covering the ground and hanging from trees may terrify adults, Olivia is now invested in these insects, giving the cicadas names and playing with them alongside her toys. CBS News, 10 June 2021 But the lack of a clear No. 1 starter doesn’t terrify McDonnell. Cameron Teague Robinson, The Courier-Journal, 20 May 2021 But attorney Brian Olney said the LAPD’s defiance of that court decision continues to terrify innocent people such as Balsaver and Sen with unlawful practices. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for terrify

Latin terrificare, from terrificus

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Time Traveler for terrify

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for terrify

Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Terrify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrify. Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for terrify



English Language Learners Definition of terrify

: to cause (someone) to be extremely afraid : to frighten (someone) very much


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

Kids Definition of terrify

: to cause (someone) to become very frightened

More from Merriam-Webster on terrify

Nglish: Translation of terrify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrify for Arabic Speakers


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