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Language tip of the week: to make someone feel very frightened

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This set of language tips will explore the words and phrases we use to talk about feelings. This week’s tip looks at some verbs and phrases that mean to make someone feel extremely frightened:



terrify someone to make someone feel afraid, especially suddenly:
It terrifies me, the way he loses his temper like that. The thought thrilled and terrified her in equal measure.
put the fear of God into someone to make someone feel very frightened:
You put the fear of God into me, yelling like that.
scare the living daylights/the life out of someone to scare someone very much:
The cat jumped onto my shoulder and scared the living daylights out of me. ♦ The way he drives scares the life out of me.

scare someone to death to scare someone very much:
He hates spiders. They scare him to death.
scare the hell out of someone to make someone feel very anxious:
It scared the hell out of me when he was rushed into hospital. ♦ I can’t watch horror movies, they scare the hell out of me.
All these expressions apart from terrify are informal and used mainly in spoken English.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘make someone feel frightened‘.

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Liz Potter

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