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


affright, alarm (also alarum), fright, frighten, horrify, panic, scare, scarify, shock, spook, startle, terrorize



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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

As Stephanie Clifford reports at Wired, one by one, exasperated and terrified, the girls reported Seth Williamson to the police. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "How to Catch a Cyber Sextortionist," 25 June 2019 On the other side of town, some people are terrified by it. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "There’s No Such Thing as ‘Brainwashing’," 16 June 2019 Reuters Ever since the 1975 blockbuster film Jaws, people have been terrified of great white sharks. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Beachgoers in the US have real-life Jaws to fear," 2 June 2019 Women across the country are angry, and, quite frankly, terrified. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Alabama's Abortion Ban Bill Is Frightening and Outraging Women Everywhere," 15 May 2019 Google was terrified that Apple would end up ruling the mobile space. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google’s iron grip on Android: Controlling open source by any means necessary," 21 July 2018 Hu is terrified of three-day weekends, which give the ants more time to break free and build bivouacs — nests made of hundreds of thousands of ants — under his colleagues’ desks. Quanta Magazine, "The Remarkable Self-Organization of Ants," 9 Apr. 2014 Bill Hader) staring into the sky looking terrified. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The 'It Chapter 2' Trailer Has So Many Hidden Easter Eggs," 10 May 2019 Our culture at large is terrified of the Night King. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The Night King in Real Life Is a Total Snack, and I Don't Know How to Feel About It," 29 Apr. 2019

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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Statistics for terrify

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrify

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on terrify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with terrify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for terrify

Spanish Central: Translation of terrify

Nglish: Translation of terrify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of terrify for Arabic Speakers

Comments on terrify

What made you want to look up terrify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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