- The definition of a startle is a quick scare or surprise.
An example of a startle is a person jumping out from behind a bush and shouting when his friend wasn't expecting it.
- Startle is defined as to scare or surprise someone or to be scared or surprised.
An example of to startle is to sneak up behind a friend and yell "Boo!"
transitive verbstartled, startling
Origin of startleMiddle English stertlen, to rush, stumble along, frequentative of sterten: see start
verbstar·tled, star·tling, star·tles
- To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
- To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten.
- A sudden, brief episode of fear.
- A sudden, involuntary movement in response to something frightening or unexpected, such as a noise.
Origin of startleMiddle English stertlen, to run about, from Old English steartlian, to kick; see ster-1 in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present startles, present participle startling, simple past and past participle startled)
- (intransitive) To move suddenly, or be excited, on feeling alarm; to start.
- a horse that startles easily
- To excite by sudden alarm, surprise, or apprehension; to frighten suddenly and not seriously; to alarm; to surprise.
From Middle English startlen, stertlen, stertyllen (“to rush, stumble along"), from Old English steartlian (“to kick with the foot, struggle, stumble"), equivalent to start +"Ž -le. Cognate with Old Norse stirtla (“to hobble, stagger"), Icelandic stirtla (“to straighten up, erect"). Compare also Middle English stertil (“hasty"). More at start.