Frightening things are scary or alarming. The sign of a really well-made horror film is that it's deeply frightening.

Ghost stories are frightening, and so are car accidents, creepy old houses, and news stories about climate change. All of these things are capable of scaring people, causing them fright or terror or dread. Frightening and the verb frighten come from the noun fright, with its Old English root fyrhtu, which means "fear, dread, trembling," and also "horrible sight."

Definitions of frightening

adj causing fear or dread or terror

awful, dire, direful, dread, dreaded, dreadful, fearful, fearsome, horrendous, horrific, terrible
frightening because of an awareness of danger

n the act of inspiring with fear

terrorisation, terrorization
Type of:
bullying, intimidation
the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.