Share this entry

frighten Syllabification: fright·en
Pronunciation: /ˈfrītn/

Definition of frighten in English:


[with object]
1Make (someone) afraid or anxious: the savagery of his thoughts frightened him people were no longer easily frightened into docility
More example sentences
  • He said people should avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house as they can intimidate and frighten people.
  • Like a doctor afraid to frighten a patient with a truthful diagnosis, it doesn't say half enough.
  • 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.
scare, startle, alarm, terrify, petrify, shock, chill, panic, shake, disturb, dismay, unnerve, unman, intimidate, terrorize, cow, daunt;
strike terror into, put the fear of God into, chill someone to the bone/marrow, make someone's blood run cold
informal scare the living daylights out of, scare stiff, scare someone out of their wits, scare witless, scare to death, scare the pants off, spook, make someone's hair stand on end, make someone jump out of their skin, give someone the heebie-jeebies, make someone's hair curl, scare the bejesus out of
archaic affright
terrifying, horrifying, alarming, startling, white-knuckle, chilling, spine-chilling, hair-raising, blood-curdling, bone-chilling, disturbing, unnerving, intimidating, daunting, dismaying, upsetting, harrowing, traumatic;
eerie, sinister, fearsome, nightmarish, macabre, menacing;
informal scary, spooky, creepy, hairy
1.1 (frighten someone/something off) Deter someone or something from involvement or action by making them afraid.
Example sentences
  • People who lived here carried on pretty much as normal, but outsiders were frightened off.
  • Police believe the culprits were frightened off by the alarm.
  • But it needs some sort of camera or a talking sign like they have in Cheetham Street, which frightens the criminals off.
1.2 [no object] (Of a person) become afraid or anxious: at his age, I guess he doesn’t frighten any more



Pronunciation: /ˈfrītnər/
Example sentences
  • Default PC configurations start looking mediocre, and the cost of upgrading to what was actually expected is another frightener.
  • Since rearing its ugly head at the Glastonbury Festival, this twisted gothic frightener has been traumatising audiences all over the world.
  • Anderson's attempt to show the world that Britain could do big-budget sci-fi just as well as Hollywood may have fizzled at the box office, but it's still a relatively effective deep space frightener.

Words that rhyme with frighten

Blyton, brighten, Brighton, Crichton, enlighten, heighten, lighten, righten, tighten, titan, triton, whiten

Definition of frighten in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwɑːˈfəː
a hairdresser