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

The numbers exceeded Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimates of approximately 91,000 cars, and also erased many fears about Tesla’s sales slumping after the company reported disappointing first-quarter vehicle deliveries, in April. Rex Crum, The Mercury News, "Tesla says Fremont workers will be ‘delighted’ with car production boost, hiring plans," 10 July 2019 But fears about a major shift may be overblown or premature given that research has shown that the influence of Chinese media on journalists and audiences in Africa remains minimal. Herman Wasserman, Quartz Africa, "Donor-funded African journalism is getting caught between the US and China world view," 9 July 2019 People have come out of the woodwork on this because of fears about home values and busing across the district. Washington Post, "School boundary questions touch off debates about race, income, equity," 8 July 2019 Growing fears about Connecticut pollution from PFAS, the hazardous chemical compound that spilled into the Farmington River last month, prompted Gov. Ned Lamont Monday to announce creation of a state task force to combat the threat. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Gov. Ned Lamont sets up state task force on hazardous chemical compound that spilled into Farmington River," 8 July 2019 As a result, much of the earliest research on young people and the internet sought either to support or to refute fears about what was about to unfold online. Kate Eichhorn, WIRED, "Social Media Could Make It Impossible to Grow Up," 8 July 2019 The proposed law ignited fears about the former British colony’s continued autonomy—promised after its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997—and also underscored the depth of anxiety over its relationship to Beijing. Time Staff, Time, "Hong Kong Protesters Try to Drum Up Support Among Mainland Chinese Tourists," 7 July 2019 The opening of the West Kowloon station last year has raised fears about growing mainland influence in Hong Kong. New York Times, "Hong Kong Protesters Take Their Message to Chinese Tourists," 7 July 2019 The extradition bill has raised growing fears about the erosion of democratic rights in the prosperous territory. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "Photos: Protesters storm the legislature on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China," 1 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Health authorities rejected their blood donations, fearing HIV. The Economist, "The killing of a black Jew sparks protests in Israel," 13 July 2019 Days before the operation was to begin, Trump forecast the plan on Twitter, blindsiding ICE agents whose safety officials feared would be compromised as a result. Caitlin Dickerson, BostonGlobe.com, "US prepares to arrest thousands of immigrant family members," 11 July 2019 The group did not advocate for individual journalists but rather spoke about them as a group, fearing that focusing on specific cases might subject the journalists to retaliation. Washington Post, "Saudi Arabia invited global press freedom group to the kingdom after Khashoggi killing," 10 July 2019 Age is, of course, a fever chill that every physicist must fear. Carolyn Wells, Longreads, "How To Embrace Professional Decline," 10 July 2019 After filing the patent and bringing the idea to Milton Bradley, design firm owner Reyn Guyer feared the concern over the game’s undertones meant it would never be released. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "When Twister Was Too Risqué For America," 10 July 2019 The reason that selling a home on a busy artery is problematic is that many buyers fear heavy traffic will translate to noise and fumes. Ellen James Martin, courant.com, "Selling a house that’s on a busy street," 10 July 2019 On Twitter, symptoms of renters’ malaise could be found all over the place, with some apartment dwellers fearing upheaval in their lives just because the landlord was suddenly making improvements to the property. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Bay Area renters’ giant game of musical chairs plays out online," 8 July 2019 Trump's threats have left immigrants living in the United States illegally in a fog of dread, putting neighborhoods on edge and making residents fear venturing outside. Anchorage Daily News, "Fear of immigration raids looms as plans for ICE ‘family operation’ move forward," 6 July 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

13 Jul 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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