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.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈstɑːt(ə)l/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈstɑɹt(ə)l/
- Rhymes: -ɑː(ɹ)təl
Audio (Southern England) (file)
- (intransitive) To move suddenly, or be excited, on feeling alarm; to start.
- a horse that startles easily
- 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], “A Proposal of Marriage”, in Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. […], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, […], →OCLC, page 127:
- He felt, too, that he was acting unjustly by Ethel: he had allowed a fortnight to elapse—he startled when he numbered up the days; it is strange how we allow them to glide imperceptibly away.
- (transitive) To excite by sudden alarm, surprise, or apprehension; to frighten suddenly and not seriously; to alarm; to surprise.
- 1997, R. L. Stine, Say Cheese and Die, Again!:
- The high voice in the night air startled me. Without thinking, I started to run. Then stopped. I spun around, my heart heaving against my chest. And saw a boy. About my age.
- (transitive, obsolete) To deter; to cause to deviate.
- 1660, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, The Life of Edward Earl of Clarendon, Lord High Chancellor of England:
- it would blast all their hopes, and startle all other princes from joining
startle (plural startles)
- A sudden motion or shock caused by an unexpected alarm, surprise, or apprehension of danger.
- 1845, George Hooker Colton, James Davenport Whelpley, chapter 1, in The American review:
- The figure of a man heaving in sight amidst these wide solitudes, always causes a startle and thrill of expectation and doubt, similar to the feeling produced by the announcement of " a strange sail ahead" on shipboard, during a long voyage.