Definition of frighten verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  

frighten

 verb
verb
BrE BrE//ˈfraɪtn//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfraɪtn//
 
Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they frighten
BrE BrE//ˈfraɪtn//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfraɪtn//
 
he / she / it frightens
BrE BrE//ˈfraɪtnz//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfraɪtnz//
 
past simple frightened
BrE BrE//ˈfraɪtnd//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfraɪtnd//
 
past participle frightened
BrE BrE//ˈfraɪtnd//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfraɪtnd//
 
-ing form frightening
BrE BrE//ˈfraɪtnɪŋ//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfraɪtnɪŋ//
 
 
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  • [transitive, intransitive] frighten (somebody) | frighten somebody to do something to make somebody 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). Synonymsfrightenscare alarm terrifyThese words all mean to make somebody afraid.frighten to make somebody feel afraid, often suddenly:He brought out a gun and frightened them off.scare to make somebody feel afraid:They managed to scare the bears away.alarm to make somebody anxious or afraid:It alarms me that nobody takes this problem seriously. Alarm is used when somebody 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 somebody feel extremely afraid:Flying terrified her.frighten or scare?Scare is slightly more informal than frighten.Patterns to frighten/​scare somebody/​something away/​off to frighten/​scare/​terrify somebody into doing something It frightens/​scares/​alarms/​terrifies me that… It frightens/​scares/​alarms/​terrifies me to think, see, etc.
  • Extra examples Don’t creep around like that! You frightened the life out of me! I didn’t mean to frighten you. The prospect of war really frightens me. a man who doesn’t frighten easily He brought out a gun and frightened them off. She’s not easily frightened. Stop it! You’re frightening me!Idioms
    frighten/scare the (living) daylights out of somebody
     
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    (informal) to frighten somebody very much
    frighten/scare the life out of somebody
     
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    to frighten somebody very much You scared the life out of me coming in so suddenly like that.
    frighten/scare somebody to death
     
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    to frighten somebody very much Spiders frighten him to death.
    Phrasal Verbsfrighten somebody/somethingaway/offfrighten somebody into doing something
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: frighten