verb (used with object), ter·ri·fied, ter·ri·fy·ing.

to fill with terror or alarm; make greatly afraid.

Origin of terrify

1565–75; < Latin terrificāre, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -ificāre -ify
Related formster·ri·fi·er, nounter·ri·fy·ing·ly, adverbun·ter·ri·fied, adjectiveun·ter·ri·fy·ing, adjective

Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for terrify

Contemporary Examples of terrify

Historical Examples of terrify

  • He speaks very loud, as if willing to terrify all Israel with his voice.

  • From time to time we will terrify these Germans with a little blast of wireless.

    The Destroyer

    Burton Egbert Stevenson

  • I did not mean to terrify you—but beware of what I told you.

    The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer, Complete

    Charles James Lever (1806-1872)

  • You did your very best to terrify her, but you never succeeded.

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • Come, Mr. M'Kinlay, say this is only a threat; do confess it was only meant to terrify.

    Luttrell Of Arran

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for terrify


verb -fies, -fying or -fied

(tr) to inspire fear or dread in; frighten greatly
Derived Formsterrifier, noun

Word Origin for terrify

C16: from Latin terrificāre, from terrēre to alarm + facere to cause
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 terrify

1570s, from Latin terrificare "to frighten," from terrificus "causing terror" (see terrific). Related: Terrified; terrifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper