[ stahrt-ling, stahr-tl-ing ]
/ ˈstɑrt lɪŋ, ˈstɑr tl ɪŋ /


creating sudden alarm, surprise, or wonder; astonishing.

Nearby words

  1. starting stalls,
  2. startle,
  3. startle colour,
  4. startle epilepsy,
  5. startle reflex,
  6. startlingly,
  7. startsy,
  8. startup,
  9. starvation,
  10. starvation wages

Origin of startling

Related formsstar·tling·ly, adverbun·star·tling, adjective


[ stahr-tl ]
/ ˈstɑr tl /

verb (used with object), star·tled, star·tling.

to disturb or agitate suddenly as by surprise or alarm.
to cause to start involuntarily, by or as by a sudden shock.

verb (used without object), star·tled, star·tling.

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

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

Examples from the Web for startling

British Dictionary definitions for startling


/ (ˈstɑːtlɪŋ) /


causing surprise or fear; striking; astonishing
Derived Formsstartlingly, adverb


/ (ˈstɑːtəl) /


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 startling



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