ag·​o·​ra·​pho·​bia | \ ˌa-g(ə-)rə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce agoraphobia (audio) , ə-ˌgȯr-ə- \

Definition of agoraphobia

: abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by the avoidance of open or public places

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Did You Know?

The agora was the marketplace in ancient Greece; thus, agoraphobia often involves fear of public places and crowds. But it also may involve fear of being in shops, or even fear of being in open spaces, or fear of traveling alone. It may also be a fear of experiencing some uncontrollable or embarrassing event (like fainting) in the presence of others with no help available. Agoraphobia can be hard to understand for those who don't suffer from it, especially because it can take so many different forms, but it is often a serious and socially crippling condition.

Examples of agoraphobia in a Sentence

a patient suffering from agoraphobia
Recent Examples on the Web The two are stuck in a codependent swirl, fueled by Shirley’s depression and agoraphobia and Stanley’s philandering and awash in their heavy drinking. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, "Elisabeth Moss and Josephine Decker reveal ‘inner sorcery’ of Sundance premiere ‘Shirley’," 25 Jan. 2020 Obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, elimination disorders, psychosis, panic disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, agoraphobia, and catatonia deserve our clinical attention, care, and compassion — not our laughs., "An Examination of College Crunch Time," 16 Nov. 2019 The medicine is for the management of anxiety disorder, the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety, and the treatment of panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia, according to Mylan. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Generic Xanax drug, Alprazolam, recalled for 'potential presence of a foreign substance'," 29 Oct. 2019 Teenage newcomer Khalil Everage, who hails from the South Side, plays a young music prodigy suffering from borderline agoraphobia, a type of anxiety disorder. Tracy Swartz,, "'Black-ish' star Anthony Anderson eagerly tours Englewood barbecue restaurant," 11 June 2018 Major depressive disorder and panic disorder with agoraphobia. Sarah Klein,, "Why This Ballerina With Panic Disorder and Depression Refuses to Apologize for Her Mental Illness," 22 May 2018 Both helped with the panic attacks and agoraphobia. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "The Great Escape: A Journey to the Center of Myself," 18 May 2018 Fields, 28, said he has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press, "Sumpter Township couple accused in death of 4-year-old held without bond," 20 Jan. 2018 According to the Appeals Court summary of the case: Hilt-Hayden has trouble seeing and hearing, and she has been diagnosed with agoraphobia, schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder. Aimee Green,, "Mini-mart owner who shunned woman with service dogs must pay $60,000, Appeals Court says," 22 Feb. 2018

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

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First Known Use of agoraphobia

circa 1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for agoraphobia

borrowed from German Agoraphobie, from Greek agorā-, combining form of agorá "place of assembly, agora entry 1" + German -phobie -phobia

Note: The term was introduced by the German neurologist and psychiatrist Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-90) in "Die Agoraphobie, eine neuropathische Erscheinung," Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, Band 3, Heft 1 (1871), pp. 138-161. Westphal gives as his vernacular equivalent Platzfurcht.

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Time Traveler for agoraphobia

Time Traveler

The first known use of agoraphobia was circa 1871

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Cite this Entry

“Agoraphobia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for agoraphobia


How to pronounce agoraphobia (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of agoraphobia

: a fear of being in open or public places


ag·​o·​ra·​pho·​bia | \ ˌag(-ə)-rə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce agoraphobia (audio) \

Medical Definition of agoraphobia

: abnormal fear of being helpless in a situation from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing that is characterized initially often by panic or anticipatory anxiety and finally by avoidance of open or public places

More from Merriam-Webster on agoraphobia

Nglish: Translation of agoraphobia for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about agoraphobia

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