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

  • transitive v. To convert (wood or other organic matter) into a stony replica by petrifaction.
  • transitive v. To cause to become stiff or stonelike; deaden.
  • transitive v. To stun or paralyze with terror; daze.
  • intransitive v. To become stony, especially by petrifaction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To harden organic matter by permeating with water and depositing dissolved minerals.
  • v. To produce rigidness akin to stone.
  • v. To immobilize with fright.
  • v. To become stone, or of a stony hardness, as organic matter by calcareous deposits.
  • v. To become stony, callous, or obdurate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To become stone, or of a stony hardness, as organic matter by calcareous deposits.
  • intransitive v. Fig.: To become stony, callous, or obdurate.
  • transitive v. To convert, as any animal or vegetable matter, into stone or stony substance.
  • transitive v. To make callous or obdurate; to stupefy; to paralyze; to transform; as by petrifaction. Young.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To convert into stone or a stony substance; change into stone.
  • To make hard as stone; render hard or callous: as, to petrify the heart.
  • To paralyze or stupefy as with fear or amazement: as, to petrify one with astonishment.
  • To become stone or of a stony hardness, as organic matter by means of calcareous or other deposits in its cavities; hence, to change into lifeless hardness or rigidity.

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

  • v. cause to become stonelike or stiff or dazed and stunned
  • v. change into stone
  • v. make rigid and set into a conventional pattern


Middle English petrifien, to harden, from Old French petrifier : Latin petra, rock (from Greek petrā) + Old French -fier, -fy.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Medieval Latin petrificare, from petra ("rock") (Wiktionary)


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