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

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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The sound of something breaking usually isn’t good, especially for parents who dread a sudden shattering noise. Dallas News, "Plano mom creates quirky candy piñatas, a new take on smash cakes," 27 Apr. 2020 His office uncovered scores of private text messages exchanged between top FBI officials who dreaded Trump would win the presidency. Laura Jarrett, CNN, "DOJ Inspector General report on FBI handling of Clinton email probe entering final stages," 16 May 2018 Officials in countries that managed to suppress an initial wave of the pandemic are dreading the possibility that the virus may have a seasonal pattern and could return in the fall and repeat the nightmare scenario. Lisa Du, Bloomberg.com, "‘False Dawn’ Recovery Haunts Virus Survivors Who Fall Sick Again," 8 May 2020 Health care workers are dreading the prospect of such dire scenarios as U.S. hospitals brace for a looming surge in patients who need breathing machines and other resources that could soon be in critically short supply. Anchorage Daily News, "How would overwhelmed hospital teams decide who to treat first?," 30 Mar. 2020 But most parties are privately dreading another costly election cycle that drains party coffers, erodes trust in the political process and jams the economy. New York Times, "The Israel Election (Round 3): Here’s What You Need to Know," 2 Mar. 2020 Fans of Jeopardy! are dreading the day Alex Trebek is no longer on their TV screens. Laura Hanrahan, Woman's Day, "Alex Trebek Says He's Rehearsed His Final 'Jeopardy!' Sign Off," 3 Jan. 2020 SeaWorld's Jody Westberg expects to release sea lions early next year and is dreading what could happen next. Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS News, "Pacific Ocean "blob" harming marine life made worse by climate change," 16 Sep. 2019 The autophobe dreads seclusion to the point of hyperventilation; the eremophobe fears isolation to the point of nausea, sweating, dizziness, even fainting. Sarah Fay, Longreads, "On Solitude (and Isolation and Loneliness [and Brackets])," 17 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun So the idea that I am guaranteed to be in the hospital in a matter of days — and with my precious newborn baby, no less — fills me with an overwhelming sense of dread and panic. Nadine Jolie Courtney, Good Housekeeping, "I’m Terrified to Give Birth During the Coronavirus Pandemic," 7 Apr. 2020 For weeks, as the pandemic has ravaged prisons around the nation, families of Alaska inmates have waited with dread for news of a coronavirus case within the inmate population here. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "‘The day we dreaded has arrived’: After Alaska inmate tests positive, families worry," 29 Apr. 2020 From his home in Boston, Richard Wamai watched Trump’s daily briefing with growing dread. Aryn Baker, Time, "What Trump’s WHO Funding Freeze Means for the Most Vulnerable Countries," 17 Apr. 2020 From fake charities to bogus coronavirus cures to an online extortionist who allegedly threatened to infect people with the dread conoravirus, scammers are rushing to profit from public anxiety over the pandemic. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Coronavirus crisis brings wave of scams," 23 Mar. 2020 Each performer, in his way, brings something especially lucid to the enactment of the dread illness. Rick Moody, The New York Review of Books, "‘Three Christs,’ Schizophrenia & Us," 12 Jan. 2020 So, rather than dread snow shoveling, try these tips and techniques to make shoveling snow safer, easier, and faster. James Jackson, Popular Mechanics, "How to Shovel Snow Without Hurting Yourself," 18 Sep. 2019 While the invasive mosquitoes are capable of spreading tropical diseases like yellow fever, dengue and Zika, Chris Conlan, the county’s supervising vector ecologist, stressed that the region has seen no cases of these dread ailments. Peter Rowe, San Diego Union-Tribune, "In San Diego, new mosquito breeds take a bite out of summer," 3 Sep. 2019 Each family member will feel a range of emotions that might include worry, anger, helplessness, dread, or resentment, and each will respond in his or her own way. Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic, "Dear Therapist: My Sister Is Really, Deeply Struggling With Her Mental Health During the Pandemic," 20 Apr. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for dread

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dread

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dread.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dread. Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for dread


How to pronounce dread (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dread

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to fear something that will or might happen



English Language Learners Definition of dread (Entry 2 of 3)

: a strong feeling of fear about something that will or might happen
: a person or thing that causes fear



English Language Learners Definition of dread (Entry 3 of 3)

formal : causing great fear


\ 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 Wizard of Oz



Kids Definition of dread (Entry 3 of 3)

: causing great fear or anxiety a dread disease

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More from Merriam-Webster on dread

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dread

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dread

Spanish Central: Translation of dread

Nglish: Translation of dread for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dread for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dread

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