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[stahr-tl] /ˈstɑr tl/
verb (used with object), startled, startling.
to disturb or agitate suddenly as by surprise or alarm.
to cause to start involuntarily, by or as by a sudden shock.
verb (used without object), startled, startling.
to start involuntarily, as from a shock of surprise or alarm.
a sudden shock of surprise, alarm, or the like.
something that startles.
Origin of startle
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
1. scare, frighten, astonish. See shock1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for startled
  • She had the delicate, frightened look of a startled deer.
  • Higher education's current rush to exposure has both startled and dismayed me.
  • It has a unique ability to react when it is startled.
  • New evidence suggests those findings, which startled the public and the scientific community alike, might be bogus.
  • And she spent all of her first week of life nodding off under the heat lamp, then being startled back awake.
  • Those findings startled the study's authors, who are sociologists at.
  • Also a quirt note and a rapid chatter alarm when startled.
  • And there is the startled jolt of adrenaline in response to the roar of a leopard--or the wail of an alarm.
  • When it started vibrating in his hand, he was startled and dropped it.
  • Most of us, non-fanatics on both sides, were startled by this story.
British Dictionary definitions for startled


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 startled



c.1300, "run to and fro," frequentative of sterten (see start (v.)). Sense of "move suddenly in surprise or fear" first recorded 1520s. Transitive meaning "frighten suddenly" is from 1590s. The word retains more of the original meaning of start (v.). Related: Startled; startling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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