fear

noun
\ ˈfir How to pronounce fear (audio) \

Definition of fear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger
b(1) : an instance of this emotion
(2) : a state marked by this emotion
2 : anxious concern : solicitude
3 : profound reverence and awe especially toward God
4 : reason for alarm : danger

fear

verb
feared; fearing; fears

Definition of fear (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to be afraid of : expect with alarm fear the worst
2 : to have a reverential awe of fear God
3 archaic : frighten
4 archaic : to feel fear in (oneself)

intransitive verb

: to be afraid or apprehensive feared for their lives feared to go out at night

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Other Words from fear

Verb

fearer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for fear

Noun

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 fear in a Sentence

Noun

He was trembling with fear. unable to walk the streets without fear of being mugged They regarded their enemies with fear and hatred. I've been trying to overcome my fear of flying. The doctor's diagnosis confirmed our worst fears. The government is trying to allay fears of a recession. Employees expressed fears that the company would go out of business. He told us about all his hopes and fears. She has a morbid fear of cats.

Verb

He was a cruel king who was feared and hated by his subjects. There's no need to fear.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In confronting the looming horror of the Civil War, many Americans found a fuller summation of their hopes and fears in Spiritualism than in something more sober. Ed Simon, The New Republic, "Marianne Williamson’s Spiritualism Has Deep, Liberal Roots," 7 Aug. 2019 On Tuesday, the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, cutting off communications and deploying thousands of troops amid fears the action could lead to uprisings there. Washington Post, "India’s decision to split Kashmir met with protests," 7 Aug. 2019 One group embraces a racist, anti-immigrant ideology and is mobilized by fear that a majority of people in the United States will soon no longer be white. Los Angeles Times, "White supremacists and Islamic State recruits have more in common than you might think," 7 Aug. 2019 For sure, the Republican Party under Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and the Bushes sought to exploit the racial resentments and fears of white voters for political purposes, particularly when an election was at stake. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "Donald Trump and Lax Gun Laws Are Tearing America Apart," 7 Aug. 2019 If the rising fears within Texas Republicans is sparked partially by the rise of nonwhite votes, why not consider candidates with nonwhite faces? Michael Arceneaux, Essence, "Opinion: Instead Of Begging Beto To Run For Senate, Support The Women Running," 7 Aug. 2019 After gaining ground on Tuesday, stocks are tumbling again on growing investor fears about an escalating trade war between the U.S. and China. CBS News, "Dow dives more than 500 points as trade worries multiply," 7 Aug. 2019 The full report is 252 pages long, detailing extensively the ways in which Heath targeted and abused the boys, using fear as a weapon to 'secure silence'. SI.com, "Chelsea Issue Statement Following Damning Report Detailing Historic Sexual Abuse at Club," 6 Aug. 2019 New York Times Corporations may have a role to play in curbing youth summer unemployment Despite a jittery stock market and fears of a weakening economy, the labor market remains strong. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Missing Toni Morrison: raceAhead," 6 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Many drivers shun Uber, fearing the software will strand them on traffic-heavy routes or penalise them for declining too many rides. The Economist, "How Beirut’s shared taxis cope with Uber," 10 Aug. 2019 El Paso wasn't the first incident:Walmart wrestles with how to respond to active shooters Ordinary Kashmiris have feared the measures would be a prelude to intensifying an ongoing crackdown against anti-India dissenters. Emily Schmall, USA TODAY, "Indian troops lock down its only Muslim-majority state, Pakistan warns of war," 9 Aug. 2019 Trump has also mused about pulling American forces out of Afghanistan by the 2020 election, a move some aides fear would be premature and could lead to a dangerous vacuum in the region. Washington Post, "Trump heads for golf club holiday - but summer storms loom," 9 Aug. 2019 Brewer suspected that Thomas was high on PCP and feared for his life based on another encounter with a suspect who didn’t respond to the less-lethal Taser, the former deputy’s defense attorney said last week. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Jurors deliberating verdict in shooting of Danny Ray Thomas," 8 Aug. 2019 Olga Ventura, 27, said that the statement made by lowering the flags was especially important to people in the Latino community, many of whom have feared for their safety after the recent shootings, especially in El Paso and Gilroy. Steve Rubenstein, SFChronicle.com, "San Rafael’s mayor fed up with gun violence, orders flags at half-staff until Congress acts," 8 Aug. 2019 Keva and Leonard are a young God-fearing couple that wanted their wedding to be both rustic and spiritual. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Bridal Bliss: Keva and Leonard's Bahamian Wedding Was A Photographer's Dream," 7 Aug. 2019 Alex Karras was a dominant and feared player during his career in Detroit from 1958-70. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions icon Alex Karras has big fan on Patriots: ‘We’ve got to get him in the Hall’," 7 Aug. 2019 Once the treaty expires in 2047 and Hong Kong reverts to full mainland-Chinese control, protesters fear that the former colony will lose the last vestiges of its independence. William Z. Nardi, National Review, "The Hong Kong Crisis Is Stuck in a Dangerous Holding Pattern," 6 Aug. 2019

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

Noun

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

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

History and Etymology for fear

Noun

Middle English fer, going back to Old English fǣr, fēr "unexpected danger, peril," going back to Germanic *fēra- or *fēran- (whence also Old Saxon fār "lurking danger," Old High German fāra "ambush, danger," Old Norse fár "evil, mischief, plague"), perhaps going back to a lengthened-grade nominal derivative of a proposed Indo-European verbal base *per- "test, risk" — more at peril entry 1

Note: Attested in Gothic only in the presumed derivative ferja, translating Greek enkáthetos "one put in secretly, spy." Though the etymology proposed above is conventional in dictionaries, the original meaning of the Germanic etymon and its relation to a putative Indo-European *per- are uncertain. See note at peril entry 1. The meaning of the Middle and Modern English noun appears to be derivative of the verb (see fear entry 2) rather than a development of the Old English meaning.

Verb

Middle English feren "to frighten, be afraid of," going back to Old English fǣran, fēran "to take by surprise, frighten," weak verb derivative (as also Old Saxon fāron "to lurk in wait for, frighten," Old High German fārēn "to lurk in wait for, strive, devise ill against," Old Norse færa "to slight, taunt") of Germanic *fēra- or *fēran- — more at fear entry 1

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Learn More about fear

Dictionary Entries near fear

feal

feal and divot

fealty

fear

Fear, Cape

feared

fear for

Statistics for fear

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fear

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

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More Definitions for fear

fear

noun

English Language Learners Definition of fear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger : a feeling of being afraid
: a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful

fear

verb

English Language Learners Definition of fear (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be afraid of (something or someone)
: to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)
: to be afraid and worried

fear

verb
\ ˈfir How to pronounce fear (audio) \
feared; fearing

Kids Definition of fear

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to be afraid of : feel fear

fear

noun

Kids Definition of fear (Entry 2 of 2)

: a strong unpleasant feeling caused by being aware of danger or expecting something bad to happen

fear

noun
\ ˈfi(ə)r How to pronounce fear (audio) \

Medical Definition of fear

1 : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger and accompanied by increased autonomic activity
2 : an instance of fear

Other Words from fear

fear verb

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More from Merriam-Webster on fear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fear

Spanish Central: Translation of fear

Nglish: Translation of fear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fear for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fear

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