American English

Definition of frighten verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



[transitive, intransitive] frighten (somebody) frighten somebody to do somethingVerb Forms present simple I / you / we / they frighten
he / she / it frightens
past simple frightened
-ing form frightening
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  •  to make someone suddenly feel afraid Sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. She's not easily frightened. She doesn't frighten easily (= it is not easy to make her afraid).
  • Thesaurusscarefrighten alarm terrifyThese words all mean to make someone afraid.scare to make someone feel afraid:They managed to scare away the bears.frighten to make someone feel afraid, often suddenly:She brought out a gun and frightened them off.scare or frighten?Frighten is slightly more formal than scare.alarm to make someone anxious or afraid:I am alarmed at how quickly this decision was made. Alarm is used when someone has a feeling that something unpleasant or dangerous might happen in the future; the feeling is often more one of worry than actual fear.terrify to make someone feel extremely afraid:Flying terrified her.Patterns to scare/frighten somebody/something away/off to scare/frighten/terrify somebody into doing something It scares/frightens/alarms/terrifies me >that…> It scares/frightens/alarms/terrifies me >to>think, see, etc.Idioms
    scare/frighten the (living) daylights out of somebody (informal)
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    to scare someone very much
    scare/frighten the life out of somebody
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    to frighten someone very much You scared the life out of me coming in so suddenly like that.
    scare/frighten somebody to death
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    to frighten someone very much Spiders scare him to death.
    Phrasal Verbsfrighten somebody/somethingaway/offfrighten somebody into something/into doing something
    See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: frighten