Definition of terrify in English:



  • Cause to feel extreme fear.

    ‘the thought terrifies me’
    ‘he is terrified of spiders’
    [with object] [with clause] ‘she was terrified he would drop her’
    ‘the terrifying events of the past few weeks’
    • ‘A robber who used a fake gun to terrify a shop assistant, sparking an armed police hunt, has been jailed for six years.’
    • ‘Funny how I can watch all sorts of horror movies for hours and not get scared while that movie and its sequel terrify me!’
    • ‘It was terrifying making such a big commitment, particularly with planning it for so long.’
    • ‘Think back a moment, if you will, to the last seriously terrifying nightmare you had.’
    • ‘To me, the more terrifying thing is when you find out that an actor that you admire is in the audience.’
    • ‘One reason for the shortage is road rage, which is terrifying the life out of some crossing wardens.’
    • ‘Since that terrifying night she has been afraid to open her front door or go out among strangers.’
    • ‘Violent crime here is mercifully rare, despite some terrifying recent incidents.’
    • ‘Liz said witnessing Jacob's stroke was the most terrifying thing she had ever seen.’
    • ‘While fireworks can cause injury to animals, the noise they make can also terrify household pets.’
    • ‘I remember the music to Doctor Who used to terrify me.’
    • ‘Some parts of the job I could do with my eyes closed, other parts baffle and terrify me.’
    • ‘"We are terrified to go out at night because it is absolutely pitch black.’
    • ‘He increasingly tries to terrify them rather than reassure them.’
    • ‘Her terrifying ordeal came just months after her car was stolen and her home torched by arsonists.’
    • ‘I've raced motorcycles and cars, so machinery and speed don't terrify me.’
    • ‘The assertion that the noise of the parachutes opening can be terrifying puzzles me somewhat.’
    • ‘The sight of these illuminated beasts, belching out fire and smoke on a dark night was intended to terrify would-be intruders.’
    • ‘The parents are terrified, their fears not at all eased by being referred to a brain surgeon.’
    • ‘Junior high and high school can terrify the wits out of those who are just entering.’
    petrify, scare stiff, frighten someone out of their wits, scare someone out of their wits, scare witless, frighten to death, scare to death, frighten the living daylights out of, scare the living daylights out of, frighten the life out of, scare the life out of, scare the hell out of, strike terror into, fill with fear, put the fear of god into, make someone's blood run cold, chill someone's blood, paralyse with fear, make someone's flesh creep, give someone goose pimples, make someone's hair stand on end, send into a cold sweat, make someone shake in their shoes
    horrify, alarm, appal, panic, throw into a panic
    frighten, scare
    scare the pants off, make someone's hair curl, scarify
    throw into a blue funk
    scare the bejesus out of
    scare shitless, scare the shit out of
    petrified, scared stiff, frightened out of one's wits, scared out of one's wits, scared witless, frightened to death, scared to death, terror-stricken, terror-struck, horror-stricken, horror-struck, paralysed with fear, horrified, panic-stricken, with one's heart in one's mouth, shaking in one's shoes, shaking like a leaf, frantic, hysterical, beside oneself
    scared, frightened, afraid
    in a cold sweat, in a funk, in a blue funk
    funky, windy
    scared shitless, shit scared, shitting bricks, bricking oneself
    afeared, affrighted
    View synonyms


Late 16th century: from Latin terrificare, from terrificus frightening (see terrific).