verb (used with object)
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.
verb (used without object)
to become frightened: a timid child who frightens easily.
Origin of frighten
Synonyms for frighten
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. 2019
Examples from the Web for frightener
Historical Examples of frightener
He's a coward and a deserter and a drunkard and a frightener of women!The Long Roll
a person or thing that causes fear
put the frighteners on British informal to intimidate
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
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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.