- 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 for on Thesaurus.com
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 frighten
Indeed, his inept attempts to frighten off Stewie only make the situation worse.Tim Winton's Beautiful, Baffling 'Eyrie'
August 18, 2014
Big scary Transformer-like robots with heads ablaze that frighten the kids back across the treacherous desert?The So-Called Immigration Border Crisis Is Neither
July 10, 2014
Their goal is to frighten women who have objected to forced hijab.Iran Says Take Off the Veil—and Be Raped
June 9, 2014
This happens to be the perfect course of action, better to frighten you with the hellish episode of slavery.The ‘12 Years a Slave’ Book Shows Slavery As Even More Appalling Than In the Film
October 18, 2013
That should frighten every Republican out of their small thinking.It's the Math
November 9, 2012
In growth all is adjusted to capacity; it is not meant to shock, force, or frighten.The Conquest of Fear
And all the little disfiguring hurts of life—they frighten me!The Bacillus of Beauty
There was nothing in that to frighten her: there was everything to make her feel content and proud.The Foolish Lovers
St. John G. Ervine
The work was hard, and the weather cold; but these did not frighten me.
This man said I must be operated on by a burning process, all of which was said to frighten me to duty.
- 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 frighten
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Idioms and Phrases with frighten
see scare out of one's wits.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.