ter·ri·fy | \ ˈter-ə-ˌfī , ˈte-rə- \
terrified; terrifying

Definition of terrify 

transitive verb

1a : to drive or impel by menacing : scare

b : deter, intimidate

2 : to fill with terror

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Synonyms & Antonyms for terrify


alarm (also alarum), fright, frighten, horrify, panic, scare, 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

Halley’s comet had been terrifying humanity for thousands of years with its feathery, glowing visage. Dennis Overbye, BostonGlobe.com, "Bradford Smith, 86, dies; showed postcards from outer space," 13 July 2018 The only truly terrifying one, a knife-wielding maniac, is an uncomfortable and tone-deaf stereotype of a Mexican gangster that the film could have easily done without. Barbara Vandenburgh, azcentral, "Gabrielle Union kicks serious butt in violent ‘Breaking In’," 11 May 2018 See the terrifying movie based on the true story of what happened to this 14-year-old girl in #GirlInTheBunker premiering May 28 on Lifetime. Rose Minutaglio, Country Living, "Lifetime's 'Girl in the Bunker' Revisits Elizabeth Shoaf Kidnapping. Here's What Really Happened.," 7 May 2018 As well as taking countless rides on terrifying rollercoasters, Jenner had a birthday cake make especially for Scott, even featuring a baby Stormi made entirely out of icing. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Wears Huge Diamond on Her Ring Finger, Fuels Engagement Rumors," 29 Apr. 2018 There's something admirable in how hard Victor Oladipo plays every possession, but there's something terrifying in the way LeBron doesn't. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Pacers Earn the Wrath of a Resolute LeBron James," 18 Apr. 2018 Although each Jurassic movie is fated to essentially repeat the same idea—oh no, dinosaurs!—this new era has come up with ways to surprise, terrify, and inspire, which is enough to keep the heart of the franchise beating. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "We’re Going to Need a Bigger Island," 22 June 2018 The incident first terrified and then infuriated Cash, who lost his stomach for prison-reform work after that. Allison Stewart, Washington Post, "At Folsom prison, Johnny Cash found his cause," 28 May 2018 Everything comes together so spectacularly that the bait and switch is still terrifying — and a perfect example of what Killing Eve is capable of. Caroline Framke, Vox, "Killing Eve’s funny, frightening third episode shows why it’s the best TV surprise of the year," 29 Apr. 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

31 Aug 2018

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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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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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