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[ter-uh-fahy] /ˈtɛr əˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), terrified, terrifying.
to fill with terror or alarm; make greatly afraid.
Origin of terrify
1565-75; < Latin terrificāre, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -ificāre -ify
Related forms
terrifier, noun
terrifyingly, adverb
unterrified, adjective
unterrifying, adjective
Synonym Study
See frighten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for terrifying
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Who'd keep him till this hour, terrifying of us all into fits?

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • He used to tell me about wonderful and terrifying adventures.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • The wall was high and the stones "jiggled" in a terrifying way.

    Four Girls and a Compact Annie Hamilton Donnell
  • And he had no idea from which direction the terrifying sound had come.

    Salvage in Space John Stewart Williamson
  • All the men placed themselves at the windows to hide the terrifying sight.

    The Flood Emile Zola
British Dictionary definitions for terrifying


causing great fear or dread; extremely frightening
Derived Forms
terrifyingly, adverb


verb -fies, -fying, -fied
(transitive) to inspire fear or dread in; frighten greatly
Derived Forms
terrifier, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin terrificāre, from terrēre to alarm + facere to cause
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
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Word Origin and History for terrifying



1570s, from Latin terrificare "to frighten," from terrificus "causing terror" (see terrific). Related: Terrified; terrifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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