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

 

startle

 verb
verb
BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtl//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtl//
 
Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they startle
BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtl//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtl//
 
he / she / it startles
BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtlz//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtlz//
 
past simple startled
BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtld//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtld//
 
past participle startled
BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtld//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtld//
 
-ing form startling
BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtlɪŋ//
 
; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtlɪŋ//
 
Surprise
 
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to surprise somebody 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. She was startled into a little cry of surprise. it startles somebody to do something It startled me to find her sitting in my office. Synonymssurprisestartle amaze stun astonish take somebody aback astoundThese words all mean to make somebody feel surprised.surprise to give somebody 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 somebody feel surprised:The outcome didn’t surprise me at all.startle to surprise somebody 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 somebody very much:Just the huge size of the place amazed her.stun (rather informal) (often in newspapers) to surprise or shock somebody so much that they cannot think clearly or speakastonish to surprise somebody 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 somebody:We were rather taken aback by her hostile reaction.astound to surprise or shock somebody very much:His arrogance astounded her.Patterns It surprises somebody/​startles somebody/​amazes somebody/​stuns somebody/​astonishes somebody/​takes somebody aback/​astounds somebody to surprise/​startle/​amaze/​stun/​astonish/​astound somebody that… to surprise/​amaze somebody what/​how… to surprise/​startle/​amaze/​stun/​astonish/​astound somebody to know/​find/​learn/​see/​hear… to be surprised/​startled/​stunned into (doing) something See related entries: Surprise Word Origin Old English steartlian ‘kick, struggle’, from the base of start. The early sense gave rise to ‘move quickly, caper’ (typically said of cattle), which led to the sense ‘cause to react with fear’ (late 16th cent.).
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: startle