startle

[stahr-tl]
verb (used with object), star·tled, star·tling.
  1. to disturb or agitate suddenly as by surprise or alarm.
  2. to cause to start involuntarily, by or as by a sudden shock.
verb (used without object), star·tled, star·tling.
  1. to start involuntarily, as from a shock of surprise or alarm.
noun
  1. a sudden shock of surprise, alarm, or the like.
  2. something that startles.

Origin of startle

before 1100; Middle English stertlen to rush, caper, equivalent to stert(en) to start + -(e)len -le, or continuing Old English steartlian to kick, struggle
Related formsstar·tle·ment, nounstar·tler, nounout·star·tle, verb (used with object), out·star·tled, out·star·tling.un·star·tled, adjective

Synonyms for startle

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

    Franz Kafka

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for startlement

startle

verb
  1. to be or cause to be surprised or frightened, esp so as to start involuntarily
Derived Formsstartler, noun

Word Origin for startle

Old English steartlian to stumble; related to Middle High German starzen to strut, Norwegian sterta to strain oneself
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 startlement

startle

v.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper