Definition of startle in English:


Syllabification: star·tle
Pronunciation: /ˈstärtl


[with object]
  • Cause (a person or animal) to feel sudden shock or alarm: a sudden sound in the doorway startled her [with infinitive]: he was startled to see a column of smoke
    More example sentences
    • She doesn't preach or exhort or alarm; she startles you into action.
    • The alarm clock startles you out of blissful alcoholic slumber and thrusts you into a nightmare world of pain and regret.
    • Darin has been staring into space, so Jason's sudden yelling startles him.
    surprise, frighten, scare, alarm, give someone a shock/fright/jolt, make someone jump; perturb, unsettle, agitate, disturb, disconcert, disquiet
    informal give someone a turn, make someone jump out of their skin, freak someone out



More example sentences
  • And some of the names are real startlers, with world titles and championship medals to boot.
  • This week he has been growling along to the following selection of diverse audio startlers.
  • While some problems are the usual run of the mill situations, the job does throw up some startlers to keep the brain ticking.


Old English steartlian 'kick, struggle', from the base of start. The early sense gave rise to 'move quickly, caper' (typically said of cattle), whence '(cause to) react with fear' (late 16th century).

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