ter·​ri·​fy | \ ˈter-ə-ˌfī , 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

Most people are understandably terrified of living in a world where bad jokes told many years ago haunt us forever and prevent us from getting jobs. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Facebook’s role in the French protests has polarized observers," 11 Dec. 2018 The estate is located on top of a hill, and while the Scream scene might have been terrifying, the property is gorgeous, with the kind of picturesque view that kinda sorta makes the most head-scratching part of the movie make sense. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "What It's Really Like Inside The 'Scream' House," 8 Oct. 2018 Those who disobeyed faced whippings, hefty fines, detention, and even execution—often in public rituals designed to terrify others into submission. Sophia Jones, Marie Claire, "The Truth About The Wives of ISIS," 4 Oct. 2018 And blasting Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose name and image Republicans have used to try to terrify voters for more than seven years, just isn’t getting the job done. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Why conservatives love to hate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," 20 Aug. 2018 Has horror lost some of its disreputable pleasures, not to mention its single-minded determination to terrify? Jason Zinoman, New York Times, "Home Is Where the Horror Is," 7 June 2018 The idea of changing that picture’s been terrifying, honestly. Heather Havrilesky, The Cut, "‘Mallory Is Not Gone’: Daniel Mallory Ortberg on Coming Out As Trans," 13 Mar. 2018 It’s more of a dark flight of fancy, a what-if about letting our helpless, quotidian lives veer into the fringes, into a chaos that is terrifying but freeing. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Trump Anxiety Looms Large Over Sundance’s First Night," 20 Jan. 2017 Even Villanelle and Eve Polastri, Killing Eve’s two incredible lead characters—who are obsessed with each other and have cultivated a mesmerizing, terrifying dynamic—aren’t friends. Anne T. Donahue, Marie Claire, "Why Don't Women on Drama Shows Have Any Friends?," 27 Dec. 2018

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

16 Feb 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 \
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

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