To frighten is to make someone feel afraid. Your new look — pink hair, tattoos, and piercings — will probably frighten your grandparents.

If horror movies and haunted houses frighten you, they scare you, and all it might take to frighten your skittish cat is the sound of the vacuum cleaner or coffee grinder. Frighten is the verb form of the noun fright. although originally the verb was also fright. The Old English source is fyrhtu, "fear, dread, trembling, or horrible sight."

Definitions of frighten

v cause fear in

“The stranger who hangs around the building frightens me”
affright, fright, scare
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frighten someone by pretending to be stronger than one really is
inspire awe in
terrify, terrorise, terrorize
fill with terror; frighten greatly
make timid or fearful
alarm, appal, appall, dismay, horrify
fill with apprehension or alarm; cause to be unpleasantly surprised
fill with anxiety, dread, dismay, or confusion
frighten or scare, and often provoke into a violent action
cow, overawe
subdue, restrain, or overcome by affecting with a feeling of awe; frighten (as with threats)
hold over
intimidate somebody (with a threat)
ballyrag, boss around, browbeat, bully, bullyrag, hector, push around, strong-arm
be bossy towards
cause sudden fear in or fill with sudden panic
strike with horror or terror
Type of:
excite, shake, shake up, stimulate, stir
stir the feelings, emotions, or peace of

v drive out by frightening

Type of:
chase away, dispel, drive away, drive off, drive out, run off, turn back
force to go away; used both with concrete and metaphoric meanings

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