- to disturb or agitate suddenly as by surprise or alarm.
- to cause to start involuntarily, by or as by a sudden shock.
- to start involuntarily, as from a shock of surprise or alarm.
- a sudden shock of surprise, alarm, or the like.
- something that startles.
Origin of startle
Synonyms for startle
Examples from the Web for startlement
Historical Examples of startlement
A wave of startlement swept over the group, but no one spoke.Masters of Space
Edward Elmer Smith
In his startlement, though, he was not able to prevent the sheet at its front from moving a little.Metamorphosis
The winch indicator stood at one hundred and three feet, giving him a rich, fruity yield of startlement.The Sky Trap
Frank Belknap Long
Bim jerked back his head and surveyed his friend with startlement which speedily softened to a wide grin.Dust of the Desert
Robert Welles Ritchie
Every eye turned on him in startlement and fear, and Steward hushed him with a whispered command.Michael, Brother of Jerry
- to be or cause to be surprised or frightened, esp so as to start involuntarily
Word Origin for startle
c.1300, "run to and fro," frequentative of sterten (see start (v.)). Sense of "move suddenly in surprise or fear" first recorded 1520s. Transitive meaning "frighten suddenly" is from 1590s. The word retains more of the original meaning of start (v.). Related: Startled; startling.