The image of a skull will frighten some people.
The definition of frighten is to cause fear or to make someone afraid or anxious.
When you tell a child a very scary ghost story, this is an example of a situation where you frighten the child.
- to cause to feel fright; make suddenly afraid; scare; terrify
- to force (away, out, or off) or bring (into a specified condition) by making afraid: to frighten someone into confessing
to become suddenly afraid
verbfright·ened, fright·en·ing, fright·ens
- To fill with fear; alarm.
- To drive or force by arousing fear: The suspect was frightened into confessing.
To become afraid: told ghost stories to campers who frightened easily.
frighten scare alarm terrify terrorize startle panic
These verbs mean to cause a person to experience fear. Frighten and the less formal scare are the most widely applicable: “The Count's mysterious warning frightened me at the time” (Bram Stoker). The angry dog scared the small child. Alarm implies the often sudden onset of apprehension: Her sudden weight loss alarmed her doctor. Terrify implies overwhelming, often paralyzing fear: “It is the coming of death that terrifies me” (Oscar Wilde). Terrorize implies intimidation and sometimes suggests deliberate coercion: “The decent citizen was terrorized into paying public blackmail” (Arthur Conan Doyle). Startle suggests a momentary shock that may cause a sudden, involuntary movement of the body: The clap of thunder startled us. Panic implies sudden frantic fear that often impairs self-control and rationality: The realistic radio drama panicked the listeners who tuned in after it had begun.