ə-ˈfrād How to pronounce afraid (audio)
 Southern also  ə-ˈfred
: filled with fear or apprehension
afraid of machines
was afraid for his job
: filled with concern or regret over an unwanted situation
I'm afraid I won't be able to go.
: having a dislike for something
She's not afraid of hard work. [=she's not unwilling to work hard]
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 Finally, give them a peek behind the curtain by sharing your goals for the future, and don’t be afraid to think big and inspire. Dena Trujillo, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 If these things aren’t true, don’t be afraid to find a new agent. Kristine Gill, Better Homes & Gardens, 26 Nov. 2023 The streets of Khan Younis were bustling with people who had been afraid to move around. Sarah Dadouch, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 But don’t be afraid to go a little more unexpected. Jake Smith, Glamour, 24 Nov. 2023 And don't be afraid to pick an activity or get silly with it! Nicole Pajer, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 Advertisement Column: Silicon Valley elites are afraid. Brian Merchant, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2023 Additionally, now is not the time to be afraid of butter. Sarah Yang, Sunset Magazine, 20 Nov. 2023 And that's exactly what Donald Trump's hope is — that people will be too afraid to speak out. Jenny Goldsberry, Washington Examiner, 19 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'afraid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near afraid

Cite this Entry

“Afraid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ə-ˈfrād How to pronounce afraid (audio)
 Southern also  -ˈfre(ə)d
: filled with fear or dread
afraid of snakes
: filled with concern or regret
afraid she might be late
: having a dislike for something
not afraid to work hard

Middle English affraied "filled with fear," from affraien "to frighten," from early French affraier, effreer "to frighten" — related to fray entry 1

More from Merriam-Webster on afraid

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