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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for terrify



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Prediction Thunder 119, Timberwolves 104 This moneyline is terrifying me. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Oklahoma City Thunder at Minnesota Timberwolves odds, picks and best bets," 13 Jan. 2020 An appeasing world is terrified about what a huge military and economic colossus of 1.4 billion people will soon be able to do to its critics. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Is America Becoming Sinicized?," 17 Oct. 2019 But some, including Flores Reyes, said they were terrified of returning to Matamoros, where they had been subjected to robbery or kidnapping. Los Angeles Times, "Mexico sends asylum-seekers south — with no easy way to return for U.S. court dates," 15 Oct. 2019 The girls were terrified, but also showed incredible strength. Jessica Feierman And Ashley C. Sawyer, Teen Vogue, "The U.S. Has Been Silencing Black Girls’ Voices for Decades," 4 Oct. 2019 Celmins was terrified of the airplanes and fascinated by them at the same time. Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, "Vija Celmins’s Surface Matters," 26 Aug. 2019 Obviously terrified by the prospect of whatever Joe might do to her, Candace made a run for it. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Flashback in You Season 2 Reveals What Joe Did to Candace, and It's Horrifying," 27 Dec. 2019 Plagued by flashbacks and terrified by what comes next, the wanted fugitive Pinkman spends a great deal of time hiding, fretting and bumping into minor characters from the series. Los Angeles Times, "Review: The ‘Breaking Bad’ movie proves Jesse is lost without Walt," 11 Oct. 2019 According to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 1976 biography, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, LBJ as a boy was terrified by a recurring nightmare: He was paralyzed, sitting on a chair in an open field and facing a cattle stampede. Tom Gliatto, EW.com, "Lyndon Johnson gets another term on Broadway, with Brian Cox in The Great Society," 2 Oct. 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.

See More

First Known Use of terrify

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

History and Etymology for terrify

Latin terrificare, from terrificus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about terrify

Time Traveler for terrify

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for terrify

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terrify.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrify. Accessed 25 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for terrify


How to pronounce terrify (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on terrify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for terrify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


dull or mediocre

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!