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From Middle English fright, furht, from Old English fryhtu, fyrhto ‎(fright, fear, dread, trembling, horrible sight), from Proto-Germanic *furhtį̄ ‎(fear), from Proto-Indo-European *perg- ‎(to frighten; fear).

Cognate with Scots fricht ‎(fright), Old Frisian fruchte ‎(fright), Low German frucht ‎(fright), Middle Dutch vrucht, German Furcht ‎(fear, fright), Danish frygt ‎(fear), Swedish fruktan ‎(fear, fright, dread), Gothic 𐍆𐌰𐌿𐍂𐌷𐍄𐌴𐌹 ‎(faurhtei, fear, horror, fright). Albanian frikë ‎(fear, fright, dread, danger) and Romanian frică ‎(fear, fright, dread) are also cognates, although probably influenced by an early Germanic variant.


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fright ‎(countable and uncountable, plural frights)

  1. A state of terror excited by the sudden appearance of danger; sudden and violent fear, usually of short duration; a sudden alarm.
    • 1994, Stephen Fry, The Hippopotamus Chapter 2:
      With a bolt of fright he remembered that there was no bathroom in the Hobhouse Room. He leapt along the corridor in a panic, stopping by the long-case clock at the end where he flattened himself against the wall.
  2. Anything strange, ugly or shocking, producing a feeling of alarm or aversion.
    • 1819, Lord Byron, Don Juan, I:
      Her maids were old, and if she took a new one,
      You might be sure she was a perfect fright;
      She did this during even her husband's life
      I recommend as much to every wife.

Derived terms[edit]



fright ‎(third-person singular simple present frights, present participle frighting, simple past and past participle frighted)

  1. (archaic) to frighten