ter·​ri·​fy ˈter-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce terrify (audio)
terrified; terrifying

transitive verb

: to drive or impel by menacing : scare
: to fill with terror

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 The friend was terrified: Had Kristin been killed as well? Jennifer Gonnerman, The New Yorker, 27 Nov. 2023 When news arrived of Israeli raids to locate young militants inside the camp, she was terrified. Sufian Taha, Washington Post, 26 Nov. 2023 But the news quickly turned ominous, then terrifying: The community, like a string of others, had been infiltrated, then overrun, by armed attackers. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 6 Nov. 2023 Soon afterward, Hamas released propaganda video footage of David handcuffed and looking terrified. Richard Engel, NBC News, 3 Nov. 2023 Members can terrify themselves with the ‘Australian Nightmares’ collection exploring the best of Aussie horror or delve into the ‘All Out Ozploitation’ collection showcasing genre films from the 1970s and 1980s. Patrick Frater, Variety, 14 Nov. 2023 All three of the young hackers were terrified of being swatted—or swatted again, in Dalton’s case. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023 Children here are terrified from the constant sound of explosions. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, arkansasonline.com, 12 Nov. 2023 Number of the week Yes, Gen Z spends a lot of time on TikTok right now, which is supposed to be terrifying Hollywood executives across the industry. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'terrify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin terrificare, from terrificus

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near terrify

Cite this Entry

“Terrify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrify. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ter·​ri·​fy ˈter-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce terrify (audio)
terrified; terrifying
: to fill with terror

More from Merriam-Webster on terrify

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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