Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.


v. fright·ened, fright·en·ing, fright·ens
1. To fill with fear; alarm.
2. To drive or force by arousing fear: The suspect was frightened into confessing.
To become afraid: told ghost stories to campers who frightened easily.

fright′en·er n.
fright′en·ing·ly adv.
Synonyms: frighten, scare, alarm, terrify, terrorize, startle, panic
These verbs mean to cause a person to experience fear. Frighten and the more informal scare are the most widely applicable: "The Count's mysterious warning frightened me at the time" (Bram Stoker).We scared each other telling ghost stories before bed.
Alarm implies a state of fearful anxiety, often brought on suddenly: The sight of the approaching shark alarmed the swimmers.
Terrify implies overwhelming, often paralyzing fear: "It is the coming of death that terrifies me" (Oscar Wilde).
To terrorize is to strike fear into another, often for purposes of coercion: "The decent citizen was terrorized into paying public blackmail" (Arthur Conan Doyle).
Startle suggests a momentary fright that may cause a sudden, involuntary movement of the body: The clap of thunder startled us.
Panic implies sudden frantic fear that often impairs self-control and rationality: The realistic radio drama panicked the listeners who tuned in after it had begun.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. a person or thing that causes fear
2. put the frighteners on informal Brit to intimidate
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Visit Film frightener for Hallowe'en SEE Ouija: Origin Of Evil!
But madness seems to have a life of its own as past deeds seek new influences in the frightener The Dead of Winter (11): Bloomsbury, 6.99 [pounds sterling], 978 1 4088 0004 1.
When Sanchez appeared at a premiere of ocean-set frightener "Open Water," the New York Times compared it to "seeing Michael Dukakis at John Kerry's Democratic convention."
If my dear old mum was alive she would call this a penny frightener.
David Douglas, U.K.-based writer-director of "Safety in Numbers," a frightener pic set in the world of reality TV, adds that "from an independent's point of view, horror is a genre that can travel well internationally."
The Mitsuoka Galue S50 Limousine is a Halloween frightener of epic proportions that makes the Rolls Phantom looks positively chaste.
"Fifteen of us were lined up in front of a firing squad with fixed bayonets as a frightener because we knocked off work five minutes early."
It's a little dark." Sure is something of a frightener. Time to turn the lights on.
Garth, author of cultish scary novel Ooze ("can water die?") tells me his latest frightener was "induced during delirium following a nasty bout of 'flu."
As a late-night video frightener, it might raise a few goosebumps.
FILM freaks in Coventry are in for a spine-chilling weekend when the movie voted the scariest ever made takes to the silver screen alongside the latest frightener.
The pounds 100,000 is a calculated frightener for an ever-growing posse of scouts.

Full browser ?