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From Middle French pétrifier, from Medieval Latin petrificare, from Latin petra (rock) + -ficare from facere (do, make).



petrified tree Kirstenbosch Cape Town

petrify (third-person singular simple present petrifies, present participle petrifying, simple past and past participle petrified)

  1. To harden organic matter by permeating with water and depositing dissolved minerals.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Kirwan
      a river that petrifies any sort of wood or leaves
  2. To produce rigidity akin to stone.
  3. To immobilize with fright.
  4. (intransitive) To become stone, or of a stony hardness, as organic matter by calcareous deposits.
  5. (intransitive, figuratively) To become stony, callous, or obdurate.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Dryden
      Like Niobe we marble grow, / And petrify with grief.
  6. (transitive, figuratively) To make callous or obdurate; to stupefy; to paralyze; to transform; as by petrification.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Alexander Pope
      petrify a genius to a dunce
    • (Can we date this quote?) George Eliot
      A hideous fatalism, which ought, logically, to petrify your volition.


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