ter·​ri·​fy·​ing | \ ˈter-ə-ˌfī-iŋ How to pronounce terrifying (audio) , ˈte-rə-\

Definition of terrifying

1 : causing terror or apprehension
2 : of a formidable nature

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from terrifying

terrifyingly adverb

Examples of terrifying in a Sentence

The thought of dying alone was terrifying. heard a terrifying noise coming from the next room

Recent Examples on the Web

And nothing was as terrifying as the idea of not being with her son. Jared Weber, USA TODAY, "Habla Español? Hispanics face growing mental health care crisis," 17 July 2019 Shocking images posted to social media showed the terrifying reality of the flash floods in the area, as some drivers became stuck in the high waters and were forced to swim to safety or stand on top of their cars until help arrived. Fox News, "National Archives confirm Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights safe after D.C. flooding," 9 July 2019 Protecting other paradises For residents in high-risk areas of California, fires are a terrifying reality, with their own vocabulary of defensible space, home-hardening and ember storms. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: The Trump tax change CA Dems actually like," 20 June 2019 The terrifying reality is that gun violence is the third leading cause of death for American children, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "This Viral Prom Photo Proves the "Dad With a Shotgun" Trope Needs to End," 22 Apr. 2018 An internet-viral phenomenon called the Tide pod challenge transformed into a terrifying accidental reality for a Metairie couple. Hanna Krueger, NOLA.com, "Metairie toddler burned after biting into laundry pod: report," 17 Mar. 2018 The boom of fireworks on July Fourth can be a terrifying trigger for anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder. Cindy Krischer Goodman, sun-sentinel.com, "Holiday fireworks can be a terrible trigger for those with PTSD," 4 July 2019 The Handmaid’s Tale is terrifying because right now, during this U.S. presidency, a form of the Gilead regime could plausibly rise up. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Why Midsommar Will Make You Want to Dress Like You’re In a Swedish Cult This Summer," 3 July 2019 The same plane was involved in a terrifying midair incident three years ago in Northern California that prompted the 14 skydivers aboard to jump earlier than planned to safety. Andrew Selsky, The Denver Post, "Vail snowboarder among 11 killed after skydiving plane crashes in Hawaii," 23 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'terrifying.' 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 terrifying

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about terrifying

Dictionary Entries near terrifying








Statistics for terrifying

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for terrifying

The first known use of terrifying was circa 1586

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for terrifying



English Language Learners Definition of terrifying

: causing great fear

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on terrifying

What made you want to look up terrifying? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no luck

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!