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Words for Uncommon Fears

Top 10 Unusual Phobias, Vol. 1


What It Is:

A morbid fear of being touched.

Word History:

Haptein is a Greek word that means to fasten (that is, to bring two things together).

Bonus Points:

Haptics is the English word for "a science concerned with the sense of touch," used in technologieslike touch-screen displays that let users feel clicks.

What It Is:

The dread of touching the skin or fur of an animal.

Word History:

The Greek word dora means "the skin or hide of an animal."

Bonus Points:

The root word dora comes from the Greek verb derein, meaning "to skin or to flay." This is also the source of derm, the Greek word for skin, which shows up in words like "dermatology".

What It Is:

The morbid dread of being alone.

Word History:

The Greek word erēmia means desert (a place where there are no other people).

Bonus Points:

The word hermit shares the same Greek root, but a hermit may find solace rather than dread in solitude.

What It Is:

A fear of or aversion to work.

Word History:

Ergon is the Greek word for work.

Bonus Points:

This word shows a family resemblance to the words ergonomic and ergometer.

What It Is:

The morbid fear of sleep.

Word History:

Hypnos is the Greek word for sleep.

Bonus Points:

Hypnotize is a word that shares the same Greek roots.

What It Is:

An abnormal fear of thunder.

Word History:

Bronto is from the Greek word that means thunder.

Bonus Points:

The same root gives us the name of the brontosaurus (literally, "thunder lizard").

What It Is:

An abnormal fear of failure.

Word History:

The Greek word kakorrhaphia means a clever or devious plot or plan, derived from kakos, meaning bad or evil.

Bonus Points:

The English word cacophony shares the same Greek roots.

What It Is:

An abnormal fear of snakes.

Word History:

Ophis is the Greek word for snake.

Bonus Points:

Two other English words with similar roots are ophiomorphic, meaning "snakelike in form" and ophiophagous, which means "feeding on snakes."

What It Is:

Fear of being buried alive.

Word History:

The Greek word taphē means burial or grave.

Bonus Points:

You can see the same Greek root in the English word epitaph (an inscription on a tomb).

Phobophobia

What It Is:

An excessive fear of acquiring a phobia.

Word History:

The Greek word phobos means "fear or flight."

Bonus Points:

When there's nothing left to fear but fear itself, this word is the perfect double whammy of the Greek word for fear.

Want more? See Unusual Phobias, Vol. 2




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