sudden and extreme fear; a sudden terror.
a person or thing of shocking, grotesque, or ridiculous appearance.

verb (used with object)

Origin of fright

before 900; Middle English; Old English frytu, fyrhto; akin to German Furcht
Related formsself-fright·ed, adjectiveun·fright·ed, adjective

Synonyms for fright Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fright

Contemporary Examples of fright

  • Finally he grabs that blanket [and] I counted eight on one double mattress, eight children held together—dying of fright.

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    Introducing Tzipi Livni to the Occupation

    Avner Gvaryahu

    October 1, 2013

  • Take this sentence: "With the snake in sight, the horse reeled his paws in fright."

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    Why Do We Want Prices in Health Care?

    Megan McArdle

    February 27, 2013

  • Kate got a fright when she thought she'd mislaid a family engagement ring that Prince William gave her in 2010.

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    Pip's Pranks

    Tom Sykes

    April 20, 2012

  • Actress Emily Montague recalls how she survived the big vampire attack in 'Fright Night.'

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    Colin Farrell Licked Me!

    Emily Montague

    August 19, 2011

  • Nonetheless, they should question the perspective and intentions of those on the fright wing they find common cause with.

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    Return of the Confederacy

    John Avlon

    February 25, 2010

Historical Examples of fright

British Dictionary definitions for fright



sudden intense fear or alarm
a sudden alarming shock
informal a horrifying, grotesque, or ludicrous person or thingshe looks a fright in that hat
take fright to become frightened


a poetic word for frighten

Word Origin for fright

Old English fryhto; related to Gothic faurhtei, Old Frisian fruchte, Old High German forhta
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 fright

Old English (Northumbrian) fryhto, metathesis of fyrhtu "fear, dread, trembling, horrible sight," from Proto-Germanic *furkhtaz "afraid" (cf. Old Saxon forhta, Old Frisian fruchte, Old High German forhta, German Furcht, Gothic faurhtei "fear"). Not etymologically related to the word fear, which superseded it 13c. as the principal word except in cases of sudden terror. For spelling evolution, see fight.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper