"frighten, terrify, alarm," mid-15c.; see a- (1) + fright (v.). It probably was back-formed from older affright (adj.) "struck with sudden fear" (which is metathesized from Old English afyrht, past participle of afyrhtan "to frighten, terrify"). The doubled -f- is 16c., probably an erroneous Latin correction of a non-Latin word (compare afford). Related: Affrighted; affrighting; affrightment.
updated on November 18, 2016