\ ə-ˈfrād How to pronounce afraid (audio) , 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

Possible reasons include children being homeless, living in poverty, living in different homes and having parents with no legal status who would be too afraid to respond to any federal inquiries. Obed Manuel, Dallas News, "What the Supreme Court’s 2020 census citizenship question ruling means for Dallas and Texas," 27 June 2019 Don’t be afraid to add fringe, sequins, and gold accents to a room because those details make a statement but remain iconic and classic. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "Rachel Zoe Dishes on Her New Pottery Barn Kids Collection," 17 June 2019 Everyone is afraid to be seen as incompetent, but true incompetence is not knowing and still acting without consultation. Janet Mock, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Pose' Writer-Producer: What I Learned From My First Directing Experience (Guest Column)," 7 June 2019 Glissman didn’t move, afraid a reaction might somehow make the situation worse. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "The Case for Wearing AirPods All the Time," 5 June 2019 Mr McBride, for one, is not afraid to look in the mirror. The Economist, "Australia’s surprising disregard for free speech," 15 June 2019 Beth Ford is the president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. —Private insurers are afraid of Medicare for All. Beth Ford, Fortune, "Land O’Lakes CEO: Farmers Are in Crisis—and America Isn’t Paying Attention," 11 June 2019 Yet people who dislike VAR are not merely afraid of the march of the future; even though, oddly enough, two of the biggest English Premier League clubs will not show VAR replays in their stadiums next year. Musa Okwonga, Quartz Africa, "How to make the case for and against VAR—video assistant referee—in the beautiful game," 10 June 2019 As medics ran tests to identify the deadly plague, even the health workers were afraid—nobody had seen this sickness before. Gaia Vince, Quartz, "How to survive in the world’s largest refugee camp," 8 June 2019

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

Statistics for afraid

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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



English Language Learners Definition of afraid

: worried that something will cause pain or injury
: nervous about doing something
: nervous or worried that something might happen


\ ə-ˈfrād How to pronounce afraid (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on afraid

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with afraid

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for afraid

Spanish Central: Translation of afraid

Nglish: Translation of afraid for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of afraid for Arabic Speakers

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).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!