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startle

[stahr-tl] /ˈstɑr tl/
verb (used with object), startled, startling.
1.
to disturb or agitate suddenly as by surprise or alarm.
2.
to cause to start involuntarily, by or as by a sudden shock.
verb (used without object), startled, startling.
3.
to start involuntarily, as from a shock of surprise or alarm.
noun
4.
a sudden shock of surprise, alarm, or the like.
5.
something that startles.
Origin
1100
before 1100; Middle English stertlen to rush, caper, equivalent to stert(en) to start + -(e)len -le, or continuing Old English steartlian to kick, struggle
Related forms
startlement, noun
startler, noun
outstartle, verb (used with object), outstartled, outstartling.
unstartled, adjective
Synonyms
1. scare, frighten, astonish. See shock1 .
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for startle
  • For others, the clicks startle the bats, allowing the moths time to escape.
  • Sometimes a sudden shift in color can be used to startle potential predators or threaten intruders.
  • startle reactions may be simply the effect of social factors.
  • He tries the horn to startle the bird out of landing, but it's not working.
  • The birds would stand still for long stretches, resembling their taxidermy cousins, then startle spectators by taking flight.
  • Dozens of earthworm species from all over the world can secrete a glowing slime, thought to startle predators.
  • Other novel ways for dealing with the pirate problem include lasers that startle their targets, and giant electric fences.
  • He never responded to the sound of my voice and didn't have the startle reflex.
  • Patients are permanently primed for fight or flight, and tend to startle more easily.
  • They're aloof, but then they suddenly appear and startle people.
British Dictionary definitions for startle

startle

/ˈstɑːtəl/
verb
1.
to be or cause to be surprised or frightened, esp so as to start involuntarily
Derived Forms
startler, noun
Word Origin
Old English steartlian to stumble; related to Middle High German starzen to strut, Norwegian sterta to strain oneself
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 startle
startle
c.1300, "run to and fro," frequentative of sterten (see start). Sense of "move suddenly in surprise or fear" first recorded 1530. Trans. meaning "frighten suddenly" is from 1595. The word retains more of the original meaning of start (v.).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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7
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