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


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

But Reynolds can't heal his two daughters from being terrified of his gruesome onscreen makeup. Temi Adebowale, Harper's BAZAAR, "Ryan Reynolds Refused to Let His Daughters on the Deadpool 2 Set for an Understandable Reason," 23 May 2018 Apparently, however shocking the choice was, the world was unaware of just how seriously terrifying the entire experience was for Montag herself. Melissa Minton, Allure, "Heidi Montag Says She "Died for a Minute" During Plastic Surgery Procedures," 6 Apr. 2018 The trend is terrifying: the problem is getting worse each year. The Editors, Scientific American, "Addicts Should Be Able to Shoot Up Legally in Safe-Injection Facilities," 27 June 2018 She was terrified of the change her new little brother would bring. Grace Palmieri, azcentral, "SOLD OUT: Arizona Storytellers brings you stories of the little, big moments of growing up," 1 May 2018 While Lockett wasn't hit by gunfire, she was terrified by the incident. Ivana Hrynkiw, AL.com, "Men guilty of lesser charges in 2014 slaying of man who tried to stop robbery," 23 Mar. 2018 Few things terrify an American president like rising pump prices. Timothy Puko, WSJ, "U.S. and Allies Consider Possible Oil-Reserve Release," 13 July 2018 Lounging around at home or taking the time to do annoying life things, like getting your license renewed or finally putting together that terrifying IKEA bookshelf, is a totally legit way to spend your time off between jobs. Annie Daly, SELF, "Why I Always Take a Between-Jobs Vacation," 9 July 2018 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

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

26 Oct 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).


by force of circumstances

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