Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
  • intransitive verb To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. synonym: frighten.
  • intransitive verb To become alarmed, frightened, or surprised.
  • noun A sudden, brief episode of fear.
  • noun A sudden, involuntary movement in response to something frightening or unexpected, such as a noise.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To start; manifest fear, alarm, surprise, pain, or similar emotion by a sudden involuntary start.
  • To wince; shrink.
  • To move suddenly, as if surprised or frightened.
  • To take to flight, as in panic; stampede, as cattle.
  • To take departure; depart; set out.
  • To cause to start; excite by sudden surprise, alarm, apprehension, or other emotion; scare; shock.
  • To rouse suddenly; cause to start, as from a place of concealment or from a state of repose or security.
  • noun A sudden movement or shock caused by surprise, alarm, or apprehension of danger; a start.

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

  • transitive verb To excite by sudden alarm, surprise, or apprehension; to frighten suddenly and not seriously; to alarm; to surprise.
  • transitive verb rare To deter; to cause to deviate.
  • noun A sudden motion or shock caused by an unexpected alarm, surprise, or apprehension of danger.
  • intransitive verb To move suddenly, or be excited, on feeling alarm; to start.

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

  • verb To move suddenly, or be excited, on feeling alarm; to start.
  • verb To excite by sudden alarm, surprise, or apprehension; to frighten suddenly and not seriously; to alarm; to surprise.
  • verb To deter; to cause to deviate.
  • noun A sudden motion or shock caused by an unexpected alarm, surprise, or apprehension of danger.

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

  • verb to stimulate to action
  • verb move or jump suddenly, as if in surprise or alarm
  • noun a sudden involuntary movement

Etymologies

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

[Middle English stertlen, to run about, from Old English steartlian, to kick; see ster- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English startlen, stertlen, stertyllen ("to rush, stumble along"), from Old English steartlian ("to kick with the foot, struggle, stumble"), equivalent to start +‎ -le. Cognate with Old Norse stirtla ("to hobble, stagger"), Icelandic stirtla ("to straighten up, erect"). Compare also Middle English stertil ("hasty"). More at start.

Examples

Comments

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  • To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.

    Emily Dickinson

    March 19, 2008