\ ə-ˈfrād , Southern also ə-ˈfred \

Definition of afraid 

1 : filled with fear or apprehension afraid of machines was afraid for his job

2 : filled with concern or regret over an unwanted situation I'm afraid I won't be able to go.

3 : having a dislike for something She's not afraid of hard work. [=she's not unwilling to work hard]

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for afraid

fearful, apprehensive, afraid mean disturbed by fear. fearful implies often a timorous or worrying temperament. the child is fearful of loud noises apprehensive suggests a state of mind and implies a premonition of evil or danger. apprehensive of being found out afraid often suggests weakness or cowardice and regularly implies inhibition of action or utterance. afraid to speak the truth

Examples of afraid in a Sentence

Melissa is afraid of flying, so she takes a train from Boston to visit her brother in Chicago.

Recent Examples on the Web

Not afraid to be colossally wrong in the service of making stuff happen. Scott Ostler,, "Some summer fun at NBA’s Summer League," 10 July 2018 The attacks made witnesses afraid to come forth, and the crimes initially went unsolved. Jeff Truesdell,, "4 Things You’ll Learn About the Murderous Nation of Yahweh on People Magazine Investigates: Cults," 22 June 2018 Australia manager Bert van Marwijk has claimed Denmark were 'afraid' of the Socceroos during their 1-1 draw in Samara., "Bert van Marwijk Claims Denmark Were 'Afraid' of Socceroos During Group C Clash," 21 June 2018 Officers said in the arrest report that there was a second Chihuahua in the yard at the house that was obviously afraid of Cortez. Shawn R. Beals, Courant Community, "Manchester Police Make Two Animal Cruelty Arrests," 5 July 2018 One person starts by telling one or two sentences of a story (don’t be afraid to be ridiculous). Chrissie Ferguson, South Florida Parenting, "Ways to incorporate storytelling into your family’s day," 25 June 2018 For example, the ex who was the jilted partner might be afraid the other person is going to leave again—and abandonment is even more common in the digital age, where people ghost frequently. Jenna Birch,, "You've Already Broken Up Once—Here’s How to Know if the Relationship Can Really Work," 10 July 2018 Here's a recent selfie pic from the celeb to compare and contrast: Kardashian West has never been afraid to reflect on her fashion and beauty blunders of years past in good humor. Lindsey V Thompson, Allure, "Kim Kardashian West Shares a Throwback Picture Minus Her Hair Extensions and Fake Lashes," 13 July 2018 When a neighborhood child at a pool was too afraid to jump off the diving board, there was one man who knew just what to do to show the kid how to be brave. Kamron Taylor, ajc, "95-year-old Air Force veteran shows little boy how to be brave," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'afraid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of afraid

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for afraid

Middle English affraied, afraied, from past participle of affraien "to disturb, frighten" — more at affray entry 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about afraid

Dictionary Entries near afraid

afoul of




afraid for

afraid not

afraid so

Phrases Related to afraid

afraid for

afraid not

afraid so

afraid to say

Statistics for afraid

Last Updated

13 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for afraid

The first known use of afraid was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for afraid


\ ə-ˈfrād \

Kids Definition of afraid

1 : filled with fear She was afraid of snakes.

2 : filled with concern or regret I'm afraid I won't be able to go.

3 : having a dislike for something They're not afraid to work hard.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on afraid

What made you want to look up afraid? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!