Share this entry

frightener Line breaks: fright|en¦er
Pronunciation: /ˈfrʌɪt(ə)nə/

Definition of frightener in English:


1A person or thing that frightens someone.
Example sentences
  • At 42 inches long, the freshwater frightener was deemed ‘a very big catch any fisherman would be proud of’ by Bob Carlson, the owner of Carlson's Fishing Tackle, Kendal.
  • The fire at Fat Boy's was only meant to be a frightener.
  • So Eriksson, in a move of stunning and unexpected simplicity, has made the second frightener his captain.
1.1British informal A member of a criminal gang who intimidates its victims.
Example sentences
  • More than once he has had to flee his home to escape armed frighteners.


put the frighteners on

British informal Threaten or intimidate (someone): trying to put the frighteners on those who wish to roam over open country is childish
More example sentences
  • Hard as it is to believe, Grover the ex-boxer and former East End man about town, felt as though someone was putting the frighteners on him.
  • We'll see if our little ‘chat’ puts the frighteners on them.
  • He wanted Mr Blythe ‘to put the frighteners on him’.

Words that rhyme with frightener

enlightener, whitener

Definition of frightener 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