Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To strike with sudden fear; alarm. synonym: frighten.
  • intransitive verb To become frightened.
  • noun A condition or sensation of sudden fear.
  • noun A general state of alarm; a panic.
  • adjective Serving or intended to frighten people.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Lean; scanty; scraggy.
  • To fasten (two pieces of wood) by splicing; join by fitting; splice.
  • Timid; shying.
  • noun A joint in carpentry; a splice; one of the parts of a fishing-rod; etc.
  • noun In golf, the narrow part of the neck of the club where it is fastened to the shaft, then glued and bound with whipping.
  • To frighten; terrify suddenly; strike with sudden terror or fear.
  • Synonyms To daunt, appal, frighten; scare represents the least of dignity in the act or in the result; it generally implies suddenness.
  • To become frightened; be scared: as, a horse that scares easily.
  • noun A sudden fright or panic: particularly applied to a sudden terror inspired by a trifling cause, or a purely imaginary or causeless alarm.
  • noun An obsolete form of scar.

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

  • noun colloq. Fright; esp., sudden fright produced by a trifling cause, or originating in mistake.
  • transitive verb To frighten; to strike with sudden fear; to alarm.
  • transitive verb to drive away by frightening.
  • transitive verb [Slang] to find by search, as if by beating for game.

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

  • noun A minor fright.
  • noun A cause of slight terror; something that inspires fear or dread.
  • verb To frighten, terrify, startle, especially in a minor way.

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

  • noun a sudden attack of fear
  • noun sudden mass fear and anxiety over anticipated events
  • verb cause to lose courage
  • verb cause fear in

Etymologies

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

[Middle English skerren, scaren, from Old Norse skirra, from skjarr, timid.]

Examples

  • In the U.S., food irradiation is used for various products, including ground beef, but most retailers resist the practice, lest the word irradiated'' on the label scare off customers.

    When Precaution Trumps Public Safety

  • In the U.S., food irradiation is used for various products, including ground beef, but most retailers resist the practice, lest the word irradiated'' on the label scare off customers.

    When Precaution Trumps Public Safety

  • The 3 Geeks Super-Sized Swimsuit Spectacular - while the whole comics/swimsuits thing is very 1990s and pretty much played out by the Amazing Heroes specials long before Marvel and Image started doing them, don't let the title scare you off...this is classic 3 Geeks material.

    Archive 2004-07-04

  • The 3 Geeks Super-Sized Swimsuit Spectacular - while the whole comics/swimsuits thing is very 1990s and pretty much played out by the Amazing Heroes specials long before Marvel and Image started doing them, don't let the title scare you off...this is classic 3 Geeks material.

    Archive 2004-07-04

  • If you couldn't care less about money except perhaps about making more of it, like most of us do, don't let the title scare you away.

    CNN Transcript Jan 25, 2003

  • QUIJANO: Yet without mentioning Republicans by name, the president blasted what he called scare tactics by opponents, calling the notion of a bureaucratic death panel a lie, and he insisted illegal immigrants would not be covered, prompting an outburst from South Carolina GOP Congressman Joe Wilson.

    CNN Transcript Sep 10, 2009

  • QUIJANO: Yet, without mentioning Republicans by name, the president blasted what he called scare tactics by opponents, calling the notion of a bureaucratic "death panel" a lie and he insisted illegal immigrants would not be covered, prompting an outburst from South Carolina GOP Congressman Joe Wilson.

    CNN Transcript Sep 10, 2009

  • Today, he warned against what he called scare tactics in the debate over Social Security.

    CNN Transcript Feb 4, 2005

  • President Bush warned that his critics are using what he called scare tactics to discredit his proposal.

    CNN Transcript Feb 4, 2005

  • President Obama took the bully pulpit to New Hampshire on Tuesday to counter what he called scare tactics from opponents of his health-care reform efforts, but it's clear that the health debate has become a proxy for a bigger fight over whether the federal government is assuming too much control over the economy.

    Redskins Insider Podcast -- The Washington Post

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  • BOO!

    July 25, 2008