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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for terrifying
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a picture most beautiful, and at the same time, because of the serpents, terrifying.

  • When he awoke these terrifying sounds were already more subdued.

    "Unto Caesar" Baroness Emmuska Orczy
  • His approach to Melcher had been dramatic, terrifying, effective.

    Gladiator Philip Wylie
  • She combined twenty styles into one style of terrifying originality.

    Mary, Mary James Stephens
  • I went to sleep myself—an unquiet slumber, broken by terrifying dreams.

    The Doctor's Dilemma Hesba Stretton
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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