\ ˈdred How to pronounce dread (audio) \
dreaded; dreading; dreads

Essential Meaning of dread

: to fear something that will or might happen He can't swim and dreads going in the water. She dreaded making speeches in front of large audiences. See More ExamplesI dread the day I will have to leave my friends. I dread the thought of moving next week. I dread to think about what they might do next.Hide

Full Definition of dread

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to fear greatly can't swim and dreads the water a dreaded disease
b archaic : to regard with awe
2 : to feel extreme reluctance to meet or face dread the future dreaded telling him the truth dread the thought of speaking in public

intransitive verb

: to be apprehensive or fearful dread not



Definition of dread (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : great fear especially in the face of impending evil were filled with dread by reports of another terrorist attack
b : extreme uneasiness in the face of a disagreeable prospect (see prospect entry 1 sense 4c) dread of a social blunder
c archaic : awe
2 : one causing fear or awe the days of wooden ships and wooden homes, when fire was an omnipresent dread— F. W. Saunders
3a : dreadlock sense 1 trimming each dread
b dreads plural : dreadlock sense 2 looked great in dreads



Definition of dread (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : causing great fear or anxiety dread diseases
2 : inspiring awe our dread king

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for dread


fear, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, trepidation mean painful agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger. fear is the most general term and implies anxiety and usually loss of courage. fear of the unknown dread usually adds the idea of intense reluctance to face or meet a person or situation and suggests aversion as well as anxiety. faced the meeting with dread fright implies the shock of sudden, startling fear. fright at being awakened suddenly alarm suggests a sudden and intense awareness of immediate danger. view the situation with alarm panic implies unreasoning and overmastering fear causing hysterical activity. the news caused widespread panic terror implies the most extreme degree of fear. immobilized with terror trepidation adds to dread the implications of timidity, trembling, and hesitation. raised the subject with trepidation

Examples of dread in a Sentence

Verb He can't swim and dreads going in the water. She dreaded making speeches in front of large audiences. I dread the day I will have to leave my friends. I dread the thought of moving next week. I dread to think about what they might do next. Noun She has a dread of failure. He lives with the constant dread of rejection. She awaited her punishment with dread. The news about the war fills me with dread. They live in constant dread of another attack. Adjective every ship on the Spanish Main was terrified of running into the dread pirate
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many area residents dread this time of year, when the warm ocean breezes that typically meander in from the coast give way to howling winds that rattle oak trees, carry clouds of dust and deliver the potential for disaster. Los Angeles Times, 13 Oct. 2021 Afghans dread the Taliban, a group surveys consistently find is unpopular. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 Sep. 2021 The atmosphere is at once sensual and unsettled—dread in vivid colors. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 19 July 2021 That’s why McCarthy and other coaches dread the hours leading up to the deadline. David Moore, Dallas News, 30 Aug. 2021 Mayer recently found succor at the University of Stuttgart, but colleagues marooned in Afghanistan dread the coming days. Richard Stone, Science | AAAS, 20 Aug. 2021 These are the calls first responders dread and have difficulty dealing with. Michael Hollan, Fox News, 26 July 2021 This strategy arouses dread that overshadows even observable reality. Steve West, sun-sentinel.com, 16 July 2021 Add customer cruelty to that tough environment, and some young staff members dread their next shifts, Brandi Felt Castellano told WHDH. Washington Post, 15 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By reevaluating your habits and developing healthier ones, the day of dread can become the day of rest it was always meant to be. Carrie Kerpen, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2021 The filmmaker and his cast, which includes Björn Hlynur Haraldsson as Pétur, Ingvar’s black-sheep brother, play an intricate game of drawing us in by mixing whimsy, even humor, with a growing sense of dread. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 7 Oct. 2021 That edge of dread — feeling the wind rise and knowing what might happen next — makes the Santa Anas as wildly unnerving as the first tremor of an earthquake. Patt Morrison, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2021 And for many, this is exactly the kind of evolution with the potential to lift a dark veil of dread from the inevitability of weekly chores. Vogue, 20 Sep. 2021 In it, Beanie Feldstein’s family gathers at her Chinatown apartment with her boyfriend (played by Steven Yeun) for a holiday meal, though an atmosphere of dread hangs over the whole experience. Jackson Mchenry, Vulture, 17 Sep. 2021 That whole week was like this growing, terrible feeling of dread. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, 16 Sep. 2021 Unfortunately, the day before the work week starts is often consumed by the Sunday Scaries, marked by anxiety and a rising sense of dread. Ashley Stahl, Forbes, 16 Sep. 2021 Instead of enjoying every minute of the weekend, many American workers, like Tynan and Zisa, describe being seized by anxiety, dread or simmering sadness because their precious days off are evaporating so quickly. Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dread.' 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 dread


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dread

Verb, Noun, and Adjective

Middle English dreden, from Old English drǣdan

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About dread

Time Traveler for dread

Time Traveler

The first known use of dread was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near dread




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for dread

Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dread. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dread


\ ˈdred How to pronounce dread (audio) \
dreaded; dreading

Kids Definition of dread

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to fear or dislike greatly He can't swim and dreads going into the water.
2 : to be very unwilling to face I dread Monday.



Kids Definition of dread (Entry 2 of 3)

: great fear especially of something that will or might happen … her dread of water was greater than her fear of the dark …— L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz



Kids Definition of dread (Entry 3 of 3)

: causing great fear or anxiety a dread disease

More from Merriam-Webster on dread

Nglish: Translation of dread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dread for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dread


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something 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!