startle

To startle is to jump, like when you're surprised. If you’re sneaking through a dark room and step on a sleeping dog’s tail — you might startle the dog. If she barks, that dog startles you right back!

A startle is a quick, sharp movement, like a little jump that happens when you’re surprised or suddenly scared. If you sneak up on your mom and say "Boo!" you’ll startle her and she might jump up in her seat (before she yells at you to quit it). Alarm clocks and barking dogs often startle people. The original meaning of startle, around 1300, was "to run back and forth," from the Old English word styrtan, "to leap up."

Definitions of startle
1

v surprise greatly

Synonyms:
ball over, blow out of the water, floor, shock, take aback
Types:
galvanise, galvanize
to stimulate to action
Type of:
surprise
cause to be surprised

v to stimulate to action

“.. startled him awake”
Synonyms:
galvanise, galvanize
Type of:
ball over, blow out of the water, floor, shock, take aback
surprise greatly; knock someone's socks off

v move or jump suddenly, as if in surprise or alarm

“She startled when I walked into the room”
Synonyms:
jump, start
Types:
show 4 types...
hide 4 types...
shy
start suddenly, as from fright
boggle
startle with amazement or fear
rear back
start with anger or resentment or in protest
jackrabbit
go forward or start with a fast, sudden movement
Type of:
move
move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

n a sudden involuntary movement

Synonyms:
jump, start
Types:
startle reaction, startle response
a complicated involuntary reaction to a sudden unexpected stimulus (especially a loud noise); involves flexion of most skeletal muscles and a variety of visceral reactions
Moro reflex, startle reflex
a normal reflex of young infants; a sudden loud noise causes the child to stretch out the arms and flex the legs
flinch, wince
a reflex response to sudden pain
Type of:
inborn reflex, innate reflex, instinctive reflex, physiological reaction, reflex, reflex action, reflex response, unconditioned reflex
an automatic instinctive unlearned reaction to a stimulus

Sign up, it's free!

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