petrify

If you scare someone so much they can't move, you petrify them. Petrify is to make something like a stone or to literally turn to stone.

At the heart of the word petrify is the Latin word petra which means "stone." In the scientific sense, wood petrifies in an environment without oxygen, say when it is buried by lava, and minerals such as silica enter the wood and fill the cells, making it hard as stone. More commonly, something petrifies a person or an animal when it scares them very much. During thunderstorms, the dog is so petrified that it hides under the bed. If you are in a store when it is being robbed, you might be petrified too.

Definitions of petrify
  1. verb
    change into stone
    “the wood petrified with time”
    synonyms: lapidify
    see moresee less
    type of:
    fossilise, fossilize
    convert to a fossil
  2. verb
    make rigid and set into a conventional pattern
    “slogans petrify our thinking”
    synonyms: ossify, rigidify
    see moresee less
    type of:
    stiffen
    make stiff or stiffer
  3. verb
    cause to become stonelike or stiff or dazed and stunned
    “The horror petrified his feelings”
    “Fear petrifi ed her thinking”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    blunt, deaden
    make less lively, intense, or vigorous; impair in vigor, force, activity, or sensation
Word Family