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[ter-uh-fahy] /ˈtɛr əˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), terrified, terrifying.
to fill with terror or alarm; make greatly afraid.
Origin of terrify
1565-75; < Latin terrificāre, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -ificāre -ify
Related forms
terrifier, noun
terrifyingly, adverb
unterrified, adjective
unterrifying, adjective
See frighten. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for terrifying
  • The idea that this site was built to placate terrifying gods doesn't seem right here.
  • The footsteps are terrifying, all coming towards you and none going back again.
  • The sound of the wind blowing in trees was terrifying.
  • How heartbreaking for the parents and students and faculty, how terrifying for the community.
  • And survived to write about a terrifying experience.
  • Imaginary traumas are as terrifying as the real thing.
  • For sufferers this condition is understandably terrifying.
  • It's a terrifying experience to try and talk someone determined to die out of committing suicide.
  • And it gives me some enjoyable and terrifying food for thought.
  • Some describe the experience as life altering, others as terrifying.
British Dictionary definitions for terrifying


causing great fear or dread; extremely frightening
Derived Forms
terrifyingly, adverb


verb -fies, -fying, -fied
(transitive) to inspire fear or dread in; frighten greatly
Derived Forms
terrifier, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin terrificāre, from terrēre to alarm + facere to cause
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 terrifying



1570s, from Latin terrificare "to frighten," from terrificus "causing terror" (see terrific). Related: Terrified; terrifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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