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 One higher education research company has predicted a 20% drop in enrollment in the fall amid record unemployment, a stock market crash and fears about the virus. Chris Kenning, The Courier-Journal, "Will college students return this fall? Universities map out plans, with plenty of caveats," 30 Apr. 2020 In Birmingham, the state’s largest city, Mayor Randall L. Woodfin (D) has long nursed fears that the Republican governor would base her coronavirus decisions on the words of conservative pundits and politicians, not on scientific data. Washington Post, "Southern governors who initially downplayed coronavirus threat ease into re...," 29 Apr. 2020 With fear rising in the community, and lives at stake, who would have the time for such an esoteric and frivolous diversion? Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Is this the day? The life of an ER nurse during a pandemic," 29 Apr. 2020 The disease caused fear across the country and world, and yet no cure appeared. Alex Scimecca, Fortune, "Photo essay: How the world has overcome pandemics over the last century," 29 Apr. 2020 Each of these predictions is framed in a way to alternately elicit hope or fear for the future. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Life after Coronavirus: Bet on Less Change Than You Hope or Fear," 29 Apr. 2020 Parents shouldn't be punished for not having the ability to see their children while coronavirus fears keep people apart, Laver said. Arizona Republic, "Parents of foster children lose what that keeps them connected: In-person visits," 29 Apr. 2020 Unfortunately, Isaac’s greatest fear became a reality shortly after midnight on April 21. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "New York Woman Dies During Childbirth Days After Tweeting Concerns About Hospital Care," 29 Apr. 2020 My perpetrator used shame, embarrassment, manipulation, and fear to keep me silent. Kimberly Zapata, Health.com, "I Was Sexually Assaulted by My Boyfriend—Only I Didn't Realize It Until Years Later," 28 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Forgo real-world training too and the atrophy that McCarthy fears becomes dangerous. Jennifer Babich, USA TODAY, "Pentagon looks to train, deploy combat units with 'social distancing protocols in place'," 14 May 2020 As the coronavirus spread throughout Europe, fears about 5G appear to have animated a rash of vandalism and arson of mobile infrastructure, including more than 30 incidents in the U.K. in just the first 10 days of April. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, "Something in the Air," 14 May 2020 The officer fired at the suspect, police said, fearing for his life. Tina Giuliano, azcentral, "Man shot by police after a high-speed chase through Prescott and Prescott Valley," 14 May 2020 Malaysia’s move sparked a rush for groceries and basic necessities in Singapore as people raced to stock up, fearing shortages. Melissa Cheok, Bloomberg.com, "Singapore Acts to Calm Supply Fears as Malaysia Bans Travel," 13 May 2020 But given the upward swing in cases, some fear the risks to Cincinnatians are great. Dan Horn, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati is reopening as coronavirus cases rise. The White House says that's a bad idea.," 13 May 2020 Now, the coronavirus pandemic has brought that feared future to the present: Travel restrictions imposed to slow the virus' spread are blocking laborers just as the harvest season for lettuces and berries begins in earnest. Sylvia Hui, The Christian Science Monitor, "A taste of Brexit: Virus locks out UK migrant farm workers," 12 May 2020 In short, doctors are worried that not enough people are coming to the hospital — people who should seek medical attention but fear coming to the hospital amid a pandemic. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "Doctors worry that coronavirus fears are keeping other patients from seeking care," 12 May 2020 Investors are flocking to America’s mega landlords, drawn by signs the companies that emerged from last decade’s foreclosure crisis owning huge pools of rental houses are weathering the economic shutdown far better than feared. Ryan Dezember, WSJ, "Wall Street Bets Virus Meltdown Gives Landlords a Chance to Grow," 11 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for fear

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fear

Last Updated

3 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear. Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for fear

fear

noun
How to pronounce fear (audio)

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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