Definition of frighten in English:



  • 1 Make (someone) afraid or anxious.

    ‘the savagery of his thoughts frightened him’
    ‘people were no longer easily frightened into docility’
    • ‘‘This frightens us,’ said Belgian Farm Minister Jaak Gabriels.’
    • ‘The whole drugs thing does frighten me, and I know it frightens other athletes.’
    • ‘This woman's rage frightens me.’
    • ‘This frightens me because I will turn twenty this year.’
    • ‘He said people should avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house as they can intimidate and frighten people.’
    • ‘Yet, there is enough in the survey to frighten many.’
    • ‘This administration sickens, disgusts, and frightens me.’
    • ‘You know, that argument really frightens me.’
    • ‘I must warn you that this image will shock and frighten you and if you are old or weak please do not look at it.’
    • ‘His change in tone frightened her and she knew that his next words would chill her to the bone.’
    • ‘They were afraid that the sounds and smells would frighten him more.’
    • ‘Being unemployed neither bores nor frightens me.’
    • ‘And that's what frightens me about this election on Saturday.’
    • ‘But what really frightens me is what happens on the next day.’
    • ‘The Master, James, finally dies only after he has succeeded in frightening his luckless victim into dying first.’
    • ‘She grew afraid that the men who had frightened her before would try to harm her.’
    • ‘It's not the distance we will walk that frightens us, but the variety of climates we will have to contend with.’
    • ‘Like a doctor afraid to frighten a patient with a truthful diagnosis, it doesn't say half enough.’
    • ‘Wind frightens her, especially at night as it sends chills down her spine.’
    • ‘It was an accomplishment, to frighten the person who had so often terrified him.’
    terrifying, horrifying, alarming, startling, shocking, chilling, spine-chilling, hair-raising, blood-curdling, appalling, disturbing, disconcerting, unnerving, intimidating, daunting, dismaying, upsetting, harrowing, traumatic
    eerie, sinister, fearsome, dreadful, horrible, awful, nightmarish, monstrous, grim, gruesome, macabre, menacing
    scary, spooky, creepy, hairy
    scare, startle, alarm, terrify, petrify, shock, chill, appal, agitate, panic, throw into panic, fluster, ruffle, shake, disturb, disconcert, unnerve, unman, intimidate, terrorize, cow, daunt, dismay
    fill someone with fear, strike terror into, put the fear of god into, chill someone's blood, chill someone to the bone, chill someone to the marrow, make someone's blood run cold, freeze someone's blood, make someone's flesh crawl, give someone goose pimples
    scare the living daylights out of, scare stiff, scare someone out of their wits, scare witless, scare someone to death, scare someone half to death, scare the pants off, rattle, spook, make someone's hair stand on end, throw into a blue funk, make someone jump out of their skin
    put the wind up, give someone the heebie-jeebies, make someone's hair curl
    scare the bejesus out of
    scare shitless
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Deter someone or something from involvement or action by making them afraid.
      • ‘A squirrel got into his birdfeeder and he tried to frighten it off with an air rifle, but he killed it instead and was sick for a week.’
      • ‘‘The amount of bad media coverage frightened the guy off,’ he said.’
      • ‘The rabbit will sit and stare at the light until something else frightens it off or it is shot.’
      • ‘They got in and took a few things, but the alarm frightened them off before they got much.’
      • ‘‘A fat man in the queue frightened me off,’ said Simon.’
      • ‘If you have read this far and I haven't managed to frighten you off and you'd still like to hire me, then great!’
      • ‘Since it's the first living thing he's seen in ages, he pursues it and only manages to frighten it off.’
      • ‘Richard comes across Mel in a bar and drags her outside to demand his credit cards back and frighten her off once and for all.’
      • ‘People who lived here carried on pretty much as normal, but outsiders were frightened off.’
      • ‘That usually frightens the crowd off for a while.’
      • ‘Police believe the culprits were frightened off by the alarm.’
      • ‘There was a further struggle in which they tried to take the bag but the milkman's shouts frightened them off.’
      • ‘They decided to frighten her off by firing an arrow so it would noisily strike the pot.’
      • ‘Clark pulled the baton out of his vehicle and waved it at them to frighten them off, and was later arrested.’
      • ‘What was it about this project that had frightened them off?’
      • ‘But it needs some sort of camera or a talking sign like they have in Cheetham Street, which frightens the criminals off.’
      • ‘I am not saying this to frighten you off but to give you an idea of what the world there is like.’
      • ‘Once when they tried to frighten it off, it seized the drogue rope and gave the dinghy a spin.’
      • ‘He was terrified, however, that his demonic heritage would frighten her off and hid it as best he could.’
      • ‘The eagerness almost frightened Anna off, but she also found it incredibly sweet.’
    2. 1.2[no object](of a person) become afraid or anxious.
      ‘at his age, I guess he doesn't frighten any more’