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From Middle English dismayen, from Anglo-Norman *desmaiier, alteration of Old French esmaier (“to frighten”), probably from Vulgar Latin *exmagare (“to deprive (someone) of strength, to disable”), from ex- + *magare (“to enable, empower”), from Proto-Germanic *magin?, *magan? (“might, power”), from Proto-Indo-European *meg?- (“to be able”). Akin to Old High German magan, megin (“power, might, main”), Old English mæ?en (“might, main”), Old High German magan, mugan (“to be powerful, able”), Old English magan (“to be able”). Cognate with Portuguese desmaiar (“to faint”). See also Portuguese esmagar, Spanish amagar. More at main, may.
- To disable with alarm or apprehensions; to depress the spirits or courage of; to deprive of firmness and energy through fear; to daunt; to appall; to terrify.
- To render lifeless; to subdue; to disquiet.
- To take dismay or fright; to be filled with dismay.