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 Those rare instances gave us the chance to talk about our lives and our thru-hiking experience without fear of making anyone uncomfortable or having to explain ourselves. Lucy Parks, Outside Online, "How Being LGBTQ Affected My AT Thru-Hike," 22 Jan. 2020 However, the new year ushered in another fear, with terrifying memories of a deadly decade-old quake and fresh nightmares of new temblors in the neighborhood. Keith Laszinski, National Geographic, "What caused Haiti's 2010 quake and Puerto Rico's more recent temblors?," 20 Jan. 2020 Be of age, have a good ID and the vast menu at the dispensary of your choice is yours to peruse without fear of prosecution. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "We went to the recreational marijuana dispensary closest to Indy. This is what it's like.," 17 Jan. 2020 The fear of gazing skyward into a haze of fast-pooping scavengers—which will apparently also drop their prey from heights of 300 feet or more—is reason enough to call in sick to work, but the vultures pose more than a psychological hazard. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Vulture Poop Has Compromised a Customs and Border Protection Radio Tower in Texas," 13 Jan. 2020 People went there to catch a wave and some rays without fear of discrimination. Drew Tewksbury, Los Angeles Times, "From hidden histories to jungle adventures: 5 book talks for the week ahead," 10 Jan. 2020 This season follows Professor Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) class through their final semester in law school — while the deception, fear, and guilt-binding Professor Keating to her students proved deadlier than ever. Lynette Rice, EW.com, "How to catch the final six episodes of 'How to Get Away With Murder'," 8 Jan. 2020 Such reluctance to come forward, whether fueled by social or cultural barriers, shame or fear, means some victims will stay silent unless they are drawn out. Anchorage Daily News, "Church offers little outreach to minority victims of priests," 6 Jan. 2020 Anxiety disorders People often think having anxiety is only about experiencing disproportionate worry and fear, but those emotions can trigger a whole host of physical symptoms, too. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "12 Potential Causes of Those Night Sweats That Leave You Drenched," 27 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Younger, healthier prisoners were kept alive in order to perform work, but even teenagers feared they could be chosen for elimination. Washington Post, "Russian Auschwitz survivor: Only coincidence that I lived," 24 Jan. 2020 In the runup to the pivotal 2020 election, controversies emerged over purges in other high-stakes states where some fear a few thousand ballots could flip the vote. USA Today, "Ohio’s voter registration purge targeted thousands in error. Now, a call for change.," 23 Jan. 2020 Schiff also invoked Alexander Hamilton in his argument, saying Trump acted in a way Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers would have feared. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for January 23: Impeachment, coronavirus, Australia, Auschwitz," 23 Jan. 2020 This is not the first time that the U.S. government’s fears over technology have placed undue suspicion on immigrants with a Chinese connection. Los Angeles Times, "The U.S.-China tech dispute breeds suspicion in Silicon Valley," 22 Jan. 2020 The moving of the auto show wasn’t a good piece of news to hear and everyone was fearing what would happen. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "It could be difficult for Detroit to fill auto show's January void," 20 Jan. 2020 Still fearing reprisal, even under the assumed pseudonym, the individual did not wish to speak on the record. Tim Mcmillan, Popular Mechanics, "The Tale of the Tape," 17 Jan. 2020 The unlawful threat to her safety caused (Bardua) increased anxiety, fear and loss of privacy. Jennifer Baker, Cincinnati.com, "High-ranking Cincinnati cop sues city alleging race and sex discrimination, retaliation," 17 Jan. 2020 Supermodernity did come to pass, but not in quite the way Augé and his successors forecast, and feared. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "With a Phone, Are You Ever Really Somewhere?," 16 Jan. 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

26 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=f&file=fear0001. Accessed 27 January 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

Comments on fear

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