frighten


frighten
frighten, fright, scare, alarm, terrify, terrorize, startle, affray, affright mean to strike or to fill with fear or dread.
Frighten is perhaps the most frequent in use; it is the most inclusive, for it may range in implicaton from a momentary reaction to a stimulus to a state of mind in which fear or dread prevails. Typically, however, it implies a more or less paralyzing fear affecting either the body or the will
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the silence of the house . . .frightened Clara—Anderson

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in the world too frightened to be honest— T. S. Eliot

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Fright is an older and chiefly literary or dialect form of frighten
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you have death perpetually before your eyes, only so far removed as to compose the mind without frighting it— Gray

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In informal and conversational use scare is often equivalent to frighten; in more formal use it usually implies fear that causes one to run, shy, or tremble
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sour visages, enough to scare ye—Gray

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a noise did scare me from the tomb— Shak.

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earth shakes beneath them, and heaven roars above; but nothing scares them from the course they love— Cowper

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Alarm in the relevant sense (compare ALARM n 1) nearly always stresses apprehension or anxiety
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they are alarmed for his safety

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the girl was . . . alarmed by the altogether unknown expression in the woman's face— Conrad

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Terrify emphasizes intensity of fear and agitation; it usually suggests a state of mind in which self-control or self-direction is impossible
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they were terrified out of their wits

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the dread of failure terrified them

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something in his face and in his voice terrified her heart— Hichens

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Terrorize, in distinction from terrify, implies the effect of an intention and therefore is used in reference to voluntary agents; thus, one may say that gangs terrorized the neighborhood by their constant depredations and that the depredations of the gangs terrified the neighborhood. Terrorize often implies coercion or intimidation
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terrorize a people into submission

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he delighted in terrorizing the guests by his bullying— Burkholder

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Startle implies surprise and a sudden shock that causes one to jump or flinch; occasionally its suggestion of fright is very weak
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one learns in parish work not to start, however much one may be startledRose Macaulay

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investigations of scientists . . . sprung on a public shocked and startled by the revelation that facts which they were accustomed to revere were conspicuously at fault— Galsworthy

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Affray and affright are uncommon in modern use, the former, as a rule, coming close to terrify and the latter, to frighten.
Analogous words: appall, horrify, *dismay, daunt: *intimidate, cow, browbeat, bulldoze: agitate, perturb, upset, disquiet, *discompose

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • frighten — [frīt′ n] vt. 1. to cause to feel fright; make suddenly afraid; scare; terrify 2. to force (away, out, or off) or bring ( into a specified condition) by making afraid [to frighten someone into confessing] vi. to become suddenly afraid… …   English World dictionary

  • frighten — 1660s, from FRIGHT (Cf. fright) + EN (Cf. en) (1). Related: Frightened; frightening. The earlier verb was simply fright (O.E. fyrhtan) to frighten …   Etymology dictionary

  • frighten — ► VERB 1) cause to be afraid. 2) (frighten off) drive away by fear. DERIVATIVES frightened adjective frightening adjective frighteningly adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • Frighten — Fright en, v. t. [imp. {Frightened}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Frightening}.] [See {Fright}, v. t.] To disturb with fear; to throw into a state of alarm or fright; to affright; to terrify. [1913 Webster] More frightened than hurt. Old Proverb. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • frighten — I verb affright, alarm, browbeat, bully, bullyrag, cow, daunt, deter, disquiet, exterrere, fright, give cause for alarm, horrify, intimidate, menace, panic, petrify, raise apprehension, scare, shock, shock with sudden fear, startle, strike with… …   Law dictionary

  • frighten — [v] shock, scare affright, agitate, alarm, appall, astound, awe, browbeat*, bulldoze*, chill, chill to the bone*, cow, curdle the blood*, daunt, demoralize, deter, disburb, discomfort, disconcert, discourage, dishearten, dismay, disquiet, faze,… …   New thesaurus

  • frighten — v. 1) (d; tr.) to frighten into (to frighten smb. into submission) 2) (d; tr.) to frighten out of (to frighten smb. out of doing smt.) 3) (misc.) to frighten smb. to death * * * (misc.) to frighten smb. to death (d; tr.) to frighten into (to… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • frighten — fright|en [ˈfraıtn] v [T] to make someone feel afraid = ↑scare ▪ Don t stand so near the edge! You re frightening me. ▪ She was frightened by the anger in his eyes. ▪ Computers used to frighten me, but not now. frighten sb to death/frighten the… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • frighten */*/ — UK [ˈfraɪt(ə)n] / US verb [transitive] Word forms frighten : present tense I/you/we/they frighten he/she/it frightens present participle frightening past tense frightened past participle frightened to make someone feel afraid, especially suddenly …   English dictionary

  • frighten — verb ADVERB ▪ really ▪ The prospect of war really frightens me. ▪ almost ▪ easily ▪ a man who doesn t frighten easily (= become frightened easily) …   Collocations dictionary


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