American English

Definition of startle verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

 

startle

 verb
verb
NAmE//ˈstɑrt̮l//
 
Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they startle
 
he / she / it startles
 
past simple startled
 
-ing form startling
 
 
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to surprise someone suddenly in a way that slightly shocks or frightens them startle somebody/something I didn't mean to startle you. The explosion startled the horse. I was startled by her question. it startles somebody to do something It startled me to find her sitting in my office. Thesaurussurprisestartle amaze stun astonish take somebody aback astoundThese words all mean to make someone feel surprised.surprise to give someone the feeling that you get when something happens that you do not expect or do not understand, or something that you do expect does not happen; to make someone feel surprised:The outcome didn't surprise me at all.startle to surprise someone suddenly in a way that slightly shocks or frightens them:Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. The explosion startled the horse.amaze to surprise someone very much:The size of the Grand Canyon amazed us all.stun (somewhat informal) to surprise or shock someone so much that they cannot think clearly or speak:He stunned us with his announcement.astonish to surprise someone very much:The news astonished everyone.amaze or astonish?These two words have the same meaning and in most cases you can use either. If you are talking about something that both surprises you and makes you feel ashamed, use astonish:He was astonished by his own stupidity.take somebody aback [usually passive] (especially of something negative) to surprise or shock someone:We were taken aback by her hostile reaction.astound to surprise or shock someone very much:His arrogance astounded her.Patterns It surprises somebody/startles somebody/amazes somebody/stuns somebody/astonishes somebody/takes somebody aback/astounds somebody to be surprised/startled/amazed/stunned/astonished/astounded that… to surprise/amaze somebody what/how… It surprises/startles/amazes/stuns/astonishes/astounds somebody >to know/find/learn/see/hear that…> to be surprised/startled/stunned into (doing) something
 
adjective She looked at him with startled eyes. He looked startled. She jumped back like a startled rabbit.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: startle