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

Example Sentences

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 Such a situation should terrify the New York pitching staff. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 20 Oct. 2022 And that left terrify without any compensation at all. Staff Reports, cleveland, 10 Nov. 2022 Like a ringmaster letting a lion out of its cage to terrify and thrill the kids at the circus, Steve Allen unleashed the 21-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis to a prime-time TV audience on his July 28, 1957, Sunday variety show. Richard Corliss, Time, 28 Oct. 2022 And the two that should terrify investors are the wildly fluctuating price of Bitcoin, and the immovable object of the $2.4 billion in debt. Byshawn Tully, Fortune, 18 Oct. 2022 This article — the details of which may or may not terrify the person writing this newsletter — looks at why sightings are on the rise. Hamed Aleazizstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 6 Oct. 2022 The cast of the new Hellraiser is hoping to terrify viewers when the franchise reboot premieres Oct. 7 on Hulu. Clark Collis, EW.com, 5 Oct. 2022 What ought to terrify – and motivate – the rest of the WNBA? Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 18 Sep. 2022 With its heart-stopping jump scares and eerie realism, Paranormal Activity has become a modern classic that continues to terrify. Sezin Koehler, EW.com, 16 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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