verb (used with object), pet·ri·fied, pet·ri·fy·ing.
  1. to convert into stone or a stony substance.
  2. to benumb or paralyze with astonishment, horror, or other strong emotion: I was petrified with fear.
  3. to make rigid or inert; harden; deaden: The tragedy in his life petrified his emotions.
verb (used without object), pet·ri·fied, pet·ri·fy·ing.
  1. to become petrified.

Origin of petrify

From the Middle French word petrifier, dating back to 1585–95. See petri-, -fy
Related formspet·ri·fi·a·ble, adjectivepe·trif·i·cant [pi-trif-i-kuhnt] /pɪˈtrɪf ɪ kənt/, adjectivepet·ri·fi·er, nounhalf-pet·ri·fied, adjectivesem·i·pet·ri·fied, adjectiveun·pet·ri·fied, adjectiveun·pet·ri·fy·ing, adjective

Synonyms for petrify Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unpetrified

Historical Examples of unpetrified

  • No power on earth—except, perhaps, a glance from Elsie—could have unpetrified Ian Macdonald at that moment.

    The Red Man's Revenge

    R.M. Ballantyne

British Dictionary definitions for unpetrified


verb -fies, -fying or -fied
  1. (tr; often passive) to convert (organic material, esp plant material) into a fossilized form by impregnation with dissolved minerals so that the original appearance is preserved
  2. to make or become dull, unresponsive, insensitive, etc; deaden
  3. (tr; often passive) to stun or daze with horror, fear, etc
Derived Formspetrifier, noun

Word Origin for petrify

C16: from French pétrifier, ultimately from Greek petra stone, rock
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 unpetrified



1590s, from Middle French pétrifier "to make or become stone" (16c.), from Latin petra "rock, crag" (see petrous) + -ficare, from facere "to make, do" (see factitious). Metaphoric sense of "paralyze with fear or shock" first recorded 1771. Related: Petrified; petrifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper