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 Her biggest fear isn't what's happening in Hong Kong currently, but what could happen in decades to come. Selina Wang And Rebecca Wright, CNN, "Hong Kong's new rules have created confusion in the classroom. Some parents are pulling their children out," 18 Nov. 2020 De Castro said her big fear is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Romina Ruiz-goiriena, USA TODAY, "Latino voters who fled dictatorships demand four more years for Trump," 17 Nov. 2020 Our fear is always not being able to provide standard level of care. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "“We are on the edge”: A Q&A with an infectious diseases doctor about Alaska and COVID-19," 16 Nov. 2020 At the time, Democrats were losing Black voters because of the party’s tepid stance on civil rights and its fear of alienating White Southern segregationists. Washington Post, "The forgotten tech company that tried to sway the election — in 1960," 13 Nov. 2020 But her big fear is that other immigration measures may become a bargaining chip. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Will a Biden administration really reverse the Trump administration crackdown on immigrants?," 13 Nov. 2020 Magical Realism Bot is a pleasant social media diversion—somewhat at odds with our historical fear of working hand in (mechanical) hand with robots. Diana M. Pho, Wired, "6 Sci-Fi Writers Imagine the Beguiling, Troubling Future of Work," 13 Nov. 2020 But for now, Lodi is split between those who contend their fear of protesters was warranted by current events, including property damage after protests in Sacramento and the Bay Area, and those who believe a reckoning over race is long overdue here. Anita Chabria Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "In liberal California, Black Lives Matter protests in some towns meet with ‘scary’ backlash," 10 Nov. 2020 In another, Tibor overcomes his fear of water thanks to his supportive friends. Mark Kennedy, Star Tribune, "New kids' series 'Pikwik Pack' puts spotlight on deliveries," 5 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Palestinians fear that the Arab world’s normalization of ties with Israel will weaken their push for an independent state. NBC News, "Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu visits Saudi Arabia, official says," 23 Nov. 2020 Some Republicans fear Trump’s claims of election fraud could backfire on the party. Jenny Jarvie Atlanta Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times, "As Georgia GOP feuds over Trump loss, might it hurt party turnout for Senate runoffs?," 23 Nov. 2020 Many liberals fear that deficit worries will hamstring their agenda and increase the possibility of austerity measures. Nihal Krishan, Washington Examiner, "Seven times Biden Treasury pick Yellen said the debt was unsustainable," 23 Nov. 2020 Some fear the push and pull of the controversy will continue. John Caniglia, cleveland, "November initiative vote splinters a major courthouse project in Medina, leaving a city’s plans adrift," 21 Nov. 2020 Even on a day-to-day basis in Malaysia, migrant women fear arrest and deportation. Margie Mason And Robin Mcdowell, chicagotribune.com, "Rape, reproductive health hazards are common in palm oil fields linked to top beauty brands and everyday household products," 21 Nov. 2020 Some public-health professionals fear that people will change their behaviour on falsely receiving the all-clear, possibly even increasing transmission of the virus. The Economist, "Scouse lessons Liverpool’s mass-testing shows promise, but must reach more people," 21 Nov. 2020 Experts fear feds aren't ready to get vaccines to nursing homes MagSafe's single-coil NFC reader is fairly limited, but could eventually turn out to be the product's best feature. Dan Patterson, CBS News, "Getting started with MagSafe, the iPhone 12's best new feature," 20 Nov. 2020 Some investors fear that stock and other asset prices will slump if interest rates eventually rise. Matthew Heimer, Fortune, "The biggest risks and opportunities for investors in 2021," 20 Nov. 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

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear. Accessed 4 Dec. 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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Comments on fear

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