- to make afraid or fearful; throw into a fright; terrify; scare.
- to drive (usually followed by away, off, etc.) by scaring: to frighten away pigeons from the roof.
- to become frightened: a timid child who frightens easily.
Origin of frighten
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. shock, startle, dismay, intimidate.
1. Frighten, alarm, scare, terrify, terrorize, appall all mean to arouse fear in people or animals. To frighten is to shock with sudden, startling, but usually short-lived fear, especially that arising from the apprehension of physical harm: to frighten someone by a sudden noise. To alarm is to arouse the feelings through the realization of some imminent or unexpected danger: to alarm someone by a scream. To scare is to frighten, often without the presence of real danger: Horror movies really scare me. To terrify is to strike with violent, overwhelming, or paralyzing fear: to terrify a city by lawless acts. To terrorize is to terrify in a general, continued, systematic manner, either wantonly or in order to gain control: His marauding armies terrorized the countryside. To appall is to overcome or confound by dread, dismay, shock, or horror: The suffering caused by the earthquake appalled him.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for frightening
They say it's frightening how the real CIA is perceived to be as clueless as Archer Co.‘Archer’ Creator Adam Reed Spills Season 6 Secrets, From Surreal Plotlines to Life Post-ISIS
January 8, 2015
In a frightening development for the GOP, Democrats had won even traditionally Republican constituencies in the Midwest.Thank Congress, Not LBJ for Great Society
Julian Zelizer, Scott Porch
January 4, 2015
After all, he was on television every week, telling macabre stories, frightening us.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days
December 13, 2014
I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.Quarantine Turns Ebola Heroes Into Pariahs
October 28, 2014
But the ambiguity of “appropriate disciplinary action” is what is so frightening about the smoking ban.The University Of New Orleans’ Cigarette Ban Is Total BS
October 21, 2014
I should make no scruple of frightening him within an inch of his life, for his good.Tales And Novels, Volume 3 (of 10)
But Turkey's suggestion about frightening her away kept working in my brain.Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood
You'll forgive me for frightening you, but it is best you should be forewarned.The Downfall
I have no intention of frightening her; I shall give her every chance.The Silver Box (First Series Plays)
Am I frightening good men who might have volunteered and done well?Things as They Are
- to cause fear in; terrify; scare
- to drive or force to go (away, off, out, in, etc) by making afraid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for frightening
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with frightening
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.