tr.v. in·tim·i·dat·ed, in·tim·i·dat·ing, in·tim·i·dates
1. To make timid; fill with fear: The size of the opposing players intimidated us.
2. To coerce or deter, as with threats: The police intimidated the suspect into signing a false statement.
[Medieval Latin intimidāre, intimidāt- : Latin in-, causative pref.; see IN-2 + Latin timidus, timid; see TIMID.]
Synonyms: intimidate, browbeat, cow2, bully1
These verbs all mean to frighten into submission, compliance, or acquiescence. Intimidate implies the presence or operation of a fear-inspiring force: "It [atomic energy] may intimidate the human race into bringing order into its international affairs" (Albert Einstein).
Browbeat suggests the persistent application of highhanded, disdainful, or imperious tactics: browbeating a witness. Cow implies bringing out an abject state of timorousness and often demoralization: a dog that was cowed by abuse. To bully is to intimidate through blustering, domineering, or threatening behavior: workers who were bullied into accepting a poor contract.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.