Definition of petrify in English:


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transitive verbtransitive verb petrifies, transitive verb petrifying, transitive verb petrified

[with object]
  • 1Change (organic matter) into a stony concretion by encrusting or replacing its original substance with a calcareous, siliceous, or other mineral deposit.

    ‘The chemical components used to artificially petrify wood can be found in natural settings around volcanoes and within sedimentary strata.’
    • ‘As the ham was petrified within ‘historic time’, it was excluded on the basis of the first of these definitions from being called a fossil.’
    • ‘The charcoal had kept the hull dry and the salt had petrified it.’
    ossified, fossilized
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  • 2Make (someone) so frightened that they are unable to move.

    ‘his icy controlled quietness petrified her’
    • ‘You are petrified of letting people see how vulnerable you can be and have a very bad case of stage fright.’
    • ‘I am petrified of heights and last year did an abseil which I found really scary.’
    • ‘But I'm also petrified of joblessness, insecurity, and drastic changes happening all at once.’
    • ‘There were so many dogs, I was petrified of getting bitten - I think I've broken the record for a lap around that park.’
    • ‘Now he is petrified of fireworks and the noise they make and was prompted to write to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph about his fears.’
    • ‘Being young, I was petrified of sitting in the car as it went through the car wash.’
    • ‘My mother is petrified of hospitals and with all the recent bad press I think the look on her face at A&E said it all.’
    • ‘Now my daughter is absolutely petrified of fireworks and of the noises they make.’
    • ‘Although I was petrified of my father, I'd still sneak it in and my grandfather would smack me on the back of my head as my father gave me the eye!’
    • ‘Spotting a snake in the grass is never simple, but it's easier to do, it seems, if you're petrified of serpents.’
    • ‘Conventional wisdom would be to go up and talk to her, but I'm petrified of failure.’
    • ‘He enjoyed a long career in engineering, particularly involving locomotives, but as a child was petrified of trains.’
    • ‘As a matter of fact, she was petrified of people informing her of things she had done wrong, even if it came with suggestions on how to improve.’
    • ‘However, politicians are still petrified of being accused of being too soft on drugs.’
    • ‘The police have given Mr Bernasconi a panic alarm for his house but he says he is petrified to go out.’
    • ‘Her hair was turned into a mass of poisonous snakes and her general appearance became so horrifying that anyone who looked upon her was petrified with terror.’
    • ‘Obviously we were petrified that a collector would find out where the nest was and raid it.’
    • ‘‘We were petrified he was going to use the gun,’ she said.’
    • ‘She is absolutely petrified and too afraid to leave her own home.’
    • ‘He is the oldest brother, and I went to him many, many times, for advice when I was petrified to go talk to my dad.’
    terrify, horrify, frighten, scare, scare to death, scare someone out of their wits, scare witless, scare the living daylights out of, frighten the life out of, strike terror into, fill with fear, put the fear of God into, make someone's blood run cold, chill someone's blood, panic, throw into a panic, alarm, appal
    terrified, terror-stricken, terror-struck, horrified, horror-stricken, horror-struck, frightened out of one's wits, scared out of one's wits, scared witless, frightened to death, scared to death, aghast, appalled
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/ˈpetrəˌfī/ /ˈpɛtrəˌfaɪ/


Late Middle English from French pétrifier, from medieval Latin petrificare, from Latin petra ‘rock’, from Greek.