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[pe-truh-fahy] /ˈpɛ trəˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), petrified, petrifying.
to convert into stone or a stony substance.
to benumb or paralyze with astonishment, horror, or other strong emotion:
I was petrified with fear.
to make rigid or inert; harden; deaden:
The tragedy in his life petrified his emotions.
verb (used without object), petrified, petrifying.
to become petrified.
Origin of petrify
1585-95; < Middle French petrifier. See petri-, -fy
Related forms
petrifiable, adjective
[pi-trif-i-kuh nt] /pɪˈtrɪf ɪ kənt/ (Show IPA),
petrifier, noun
half-petrified, adjective
semipetrified, adjective
unpetrified, adjective
unpetrifying, adjective
2. immobilize, dumbfound, daze. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for petrified
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Carwin's eyes glared, and his limbs were petrified at this intelligence.

    Wieland; or The Transformation Charles Brockden Brown
  • She stood as if petrified throughout a wait that seemed to both interminable.

    The Fortune Hunter Louis Joseph Vance
  • One wondered, were they pursuing truth or were they petrified by ritual and routine?

    The Unveiling of Lhasa Edmund Candler
  • It was like a fine mask, suddenly startled, made angry, and petrified.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • There it was, a mere nubbin of crust and so hard it might almost have been taken for a petrified specimen of prehistoric bread.

    Merton of the Movies Harry Leon Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for petrified


verb -fies, -fying, -fied
(transitive; often passive) to convert (organic material, esp plant material) into a fossilized form by impregnation with dissolved minerals so that the original appearance is preserved
to make or become dull, unresponsive, insensitive, etc; deaden
(transitive; often passive) to stun or daze with horror, fear, etc
Derived Forms
petrifier, noun
Word Origin
C16: from French pétrifier, ultimately from Greek petra stone, rock
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for petrified

1660s, "turned to stone," past participle adjective from petrify (v.). Figurative meaning "paralyzed (with fright, etc.)" is from 1720.



1590s, from Middle French pétrifier "to make or become stone" (16c.), from Latin petra "rock, crag" (see petrous) + -ficare, from facere "to make, do" (see factitious). Metaphoric sense of "paralyze with fear or shock" first recorded 1771. Related: Petrified; petrifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for petrified



Drunk; ossified, stoned (1903+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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