verb (used with object)

  1. to make afraid or fearful; throw into a fright; terrify; scare.
  2. to drive (usually followed by away, off, etc.) by scaring: to frighten away pigeons from the roof.

verb (used without object)

  1. to become frightened: a timid child who frightens easily.


  1. a person or thing that causes fear
  2. put the frighteners on British informal to intimidate

verb (tr)

  1. to cause fear in; terrify; scare
  2. to drive or force to go (away, off, out, in, etc) by making afraid

1660s, from fright + -en (1). Related: Frightened; frightening. The earlier verb was simply fright (Old English fyrhtan) “to frighten.”

see scare out of one’s wits.

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