Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To cause to make a quick involuntary movement or start.
  • transitive v. To alarm, frighten, or surprise suddenly. See Synonyms at frighten.
  • intransitive v. To become alarmed, frightened, or surprised.
  • n. A sudden mild shock; a start.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. A sudden movement or shock caused by surprise, alarm, or apprehension of danger; a start.

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

  • v. to stimulate to action
  • v. move or jump suddenly, as if in surprise or alarm
  • n. a sudden involuntary movement

Etymologies

Middle English stertlen, to run about, from Old English steartlian, to kick; see ster-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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

    March 19, 2008