Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Sudden intense fear, as of something immediately threatening. synonym: fear.
  • noun Informal Something extremely unsightly, alarming, or strange.
  • transitive verb To frighten.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Sudden and extreme fear; terror caused by the sudden appearance or prospect of danger.
  • noun Anything which by its sudden occurrence or appearance may greatly startle and alarm; hence, by hyperbole, a person of a shocking, grotesque, or ridiculous appearance in either person or dress: as, she is a perfect fright.
  • noun Synonyms Terror, Dismay, etc. See alarm.
  • To frighten; affright; terrify; scare.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A state of terror excited by the sudden appearance of danger; sudden and violent fear, usually of short duration; a sudden alarm.
  • noun colloq. Anything strange, ugly or shocking, producing a feeling of alarm or aversion.
  • transitive verb To alarm suddenly; to shock by causing sudden fear; to terrify; to scare.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A state of terror excited by the sudden appearance of danger; sudden and violent fear, usually of short duration; a sudden alarm.
  • noun Anything strange, ugly or shocking, producing a feeling of alarm or aversion.
  • verb archaic to frighten

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb cause fear in
  • noun an emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger (usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight)

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English fyrhto, fryhto. V., from Middle English frighten, to frighten, be afraid, from Old English fyrhtan.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English fright, furht, from Old English fryhtu, fyrhto ("fright, fear, dread, trembling, horrible sight"), from Proto-Germanic *furhtīn (“fear”), from Proto-Indo-European *perg- (“to frighten; fear”). Cognate with Scots fricht ("fright"), Old Frisian fruchte ("fright"), Gothic  (faúrhtei, "fear, horror, fright"). Also related to Low German frucht ("fright"), German Furcht ("fear, fright"), Danish frygt ("fear"), Swedish fruktan ("fear, fright, dread"). Albanian frikë ("fear, fright, dread, danger") and Romanian frică ("fear, fright, dread") are also cognates, although probably influenced by an early Germanic variant.

Examples

  • -- "But consider the fright your honor put us into," replied Pat, -- "_consider the fright_!"

    The Jest Book The Choicest Anecdotes and Sayings

  • McWhorter speculates on a possible connection between certain Germanic and Semitic roots, such as the English word fright compared with the Semitic root p-r-kh meaning "to fear."

    The line between cranks and scholars

  • McWhorter speculates on a possible connection between certain Germanic and Semitic roots, such as the English word fright compared with the Semitic root p-r-kh meaning "to fear."

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • "Not what I call a fright," he asserted in an even tone.

    A Master's Degree

  • "Not what I call a fright," he asserted in an even tone.

    A Master's Degree

  • "I cannot advise what you call a fright, and what might be a terrible thing."

    Dona Perfecta

  • Balm for the souls of those scarred for life by childhood encounters with balloon-twisting bogeymen in fright wigs.

    Boing Boing

  • If the NDP had begun to rise for the Aye vote, he and his caucus would have passed out in fright and shock on the spot -- and the Tories, with the distinct possibility of a majority in their sights, would have burst into song.

    Archive 2009-10-01

  • But basically it looks to me like we had little boys writing foul graffitti on the wall and running away in fright when someone objected.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » A Sad Victory for Thuggery in Texas

  • One of the revelations in Threepenny Memoir was how crippling Barât's stage fright is – a surprise when the Libertines are routinely voted as one of the best live bands.

    Carl Barât: The interview

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