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

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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 Even the most terrifying moves will be justified, even the clearest forms of evidence will be challenged. Madhav Khosla, Time, "The Battle for India's Founding Ideals," 6 Jan. 2020 In the character of the Lord, who ruthlessly polices every detail of his family’s life, Chraïbi created one of the most terrifying fathers in modern literature. Adam Shatz, The New York Review of Books, "Driss Chraïbi & the Novel Morocco Had to Ban," 2 Jan. 2020 But the most terrifying moment of the whole episode is when Archie is found unresponsive by the park rangers who come to try to save him. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Did Archie Really Die On "Riverdale"'s Mid-Season Premiere?," 17 Jan. 2019 One of the most persuasive of the many books that spell out the consequences of climate change—and one of the most terrifying. The Economist, "Our books of the year," 7 Dec. 2019 Things, including terrifying things, happen abruptly. Karl Vick, Time, "Sam Mendes on Taking World War I Out of the Trenches and Into the Theater in 1917," 3 Dec. 2019 Every phone call was terrifying; Alyssa only ever had bad news for me. Kristin Shaw, Good Housekeeping, "How It Feels When Your Daughter Is the Victim of Domestic Violence," 30 Sep. 2019 Bill Skarsgard returns as Pennywise, one of the eponymous shapeshifting monster’s most terrifying incarnations. Paula Bernstein, Fortune, "Can a Couple of Creepy Clowns Scare Up Big Numbers at the Box Office?," 5 Sep. 2019 The beauties and pleasures of the natural world help inspire an almost indomitable will to live; the destruction of the earth is one of the most terrifying dangers posed by war. Sophie Pinkham, The New Republic, "Vasily Grossman’s Lost Epic," 27 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of terrifying

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for terrifying

Time Traveler

The first known use of terrifying was circa 1586

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Statistics for terrifying

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terrifying.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrifying. Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for terrifying


How to pronounce terrifying (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of terrifying

: causing great fear

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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).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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