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 Mysteries, like works of horror, transmute nebulous fears into tangible dangers. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Yorker, "An Overlooked Novel from 1935 by the Godmother of Feminist Detective Fiction," 13 Nov. 2019 The survey, which was conducted between August and October, comes on the heels of a volatile third quarter, with stocks tumbling in August on recession fears. Jessica Menton, USA TODAY, "Wealthy investors are bracing for a stock market sell-off, more turbulence in 2020," 13 Nov. 2019 Amazon’s foray into private-label products has added to the fears. Fortune, "Nike Is Breaking Up With Amazon," 13 Nov. 2019 Today the Supreme Court heard arguments on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects thousands of young immigrants from fear of deportation. NBC News, "Daniela Pierre-Bravo: This is what a Dreamer looks like," 12 Nov. 2019 Despite ongoing public fear of a national recession, state revenues largely remained constant, according to a new report Tuesday from fiscal analysts. Keith M. Phaneuf, courant.com, "State tax revenue holding steady, but plastic bag fees are far lower than anticipated as supermarkets stop stocking them," 12 Nov. 2019 Recession fears recede Despite Mr. Trump's focus on the stock market, many Americans, particularly lower-income ones, do not have any money invested in stocks. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Trump touts wage gains and factory jobs in Economic Club of New York speech," 12 Nov. 2019 Still, the possibilities for a better future seemed to outweigh the fears. BostonGlobe.com, "The case before the Supreme Court will center on narrower legal questions: Can courts intervene in the Trump administration’s decision to end the program? And if so, did the administration meet the legal standards in explaining its reasoning for doing so?," 11 Nov. 2019 The retailing bacchanal will be seen as a test of China’s economic health, amid the ongoing trade war with the US, and the growing fear that the country’s economic growth could fall to levels not seen since the early 1990s. Mike Murphy, Quartz, "China’s Singles’ Day brought in nearly $9 billion in sales in the first 20 minutes," 10 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the country had spent so long fearing a slide into recession that even its third-quarter expansion of 0.1%, announced on November 14th, felt like a success. The Economist, "Germany’s fiscal debate is livelier than ever, as the economy flatlines," 14 Nov. 2019 Seasonlong shooting concerns proved to be the Achilles heel fans feared when John Wall and company hit just 4 of 32 3s in an Elite Eight loss to West Virginia. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Where does Evansville rank among John Calipari's worst Kentucky basketball losses?," 13 Nov. 2019 TikTok ran afoul of regulators in 2019, but for different reasons than Facebook originally feared. Sarah Frier, Fortune, "Why Facebook Passed on Buying the App That Became TikTok," 13 Nov. 2019 Demonstrations were initially against a proposed law that would allow criminals to be extradited to China, something the protesters feared would be used to draw people into Beijing's legal system. Alexander Smith, NBC News, "Hong Kong violence escalates as China tells U.S. to back off," 13 Nov. 2019 Days of Our Lives fans fear the famous hourglass has finally ran out of sand. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Days of Our Lives' Fans Worry the Show Is Ending After "Tragic" and "Ridiculous" Cast News," 12 Nov. 2019 Vazquez became afraid to complain, fearing retaliation, the Fair Housing Center said. Crystal Hill, Indianapolis Star, "Real estate business owner accused of discriminating against Latino community to pay $395K," 12 Nov. 2019 Agents like anthrax or smallpox remain among the most feared in connection with bioterrorism attacks. Ana Santos Rutschman, The Conversation, "Salad bars and water systems are easy targets for bioterrorists – and America’s monitoring system is woefully inadequate," 7 Nov. 2019 Mbappé is yet to make a decision about his future, but PSG fear his head may have been turned by Madrid's interest. SI.com, "PSG to Offer Kylian Mbappé Huge Pay Rise in Attempt to Fend Off Real Madrid Interest," 5 Nov. 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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Statistics for fear

Last Updated

16 Nov 2019

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
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

Comments on fear

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