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 Even the densely populated bears in the Tahoe Basin that have lost much of their fear of humans and saunter down residential streets usually still take off when approached. Tribune News Service, al, "Mysterious disease killing young California bears in Tahoe. One symptom: fearlessness," 28 Mar. 2021 One of the nuns, soon after the heart attack, called to offer her a job — saying later how the teenager impressed her by staying calm despite her fear and anger. Curt Brown, Star Tribune, "Minnesota nurse looks back on a long career with humor," 27 Mar. 2021 My fear is that complaining to the owner will be futile. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Funeral plan mix-up causes adult child to pull away," 27 Mar. 2021 Only 15 percent said hacking threats were their top fear. Laura Sky Brown, Car and Driver, "Connected-Car Hacking Is a Perennial Worry and a Constant Fight," 25 Mar. 2021 It’s not like watching people on Montel confront their fear of olives or mushrooms. Kyndall Cunningham, Vulture, "The Challenge: Double Agents Recap: The Plot Against Aneesa," 25 Mar. 2021 Now, after the 2014 election of Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat’s chief minister when the pogroms happened, Vohra said his fear is even worse. John Byrne, chicagotribune.com, "Symbolic city council resolution addressing tensions in India arrives at vote, after months of negotiation and pushback," 24 Mar. 2021 And one way to go through our fear is to reach out to our community. Natalie Morin, refinery29.com, "Sandra Oh Says She’s “Proud to Be Asian” At Stop Asian Hate Protest Rally," 23 Mar. 2021 Their greatest fear right now is that a child is going to die in their custody. ABC News, "'This Week' Transcript 3-21-21: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Gov. Doug Ducey, Rep. Michael McCaul, Rep. Judy Chu," 21 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But the truth is that landowners fear that someone might park a mobile home nearby. The New Yorker, "The Mail," 29 Mar. 2021 Last week, the government closed non-essential stores and imposed travel restrictions for residents of Paris and several other regions, but some doctors fear that won’t be enough to slow the new outbreak. Fox News, "French President Macron has no regrets for rejecting third virus lockdown," 27 Mar. 2021 Salons are a service field dominated by Asian American women who are similarly vulnerable targets, and many workers fear for their safety. Washington Post, "Her pandemic year was already tough, as an Asian American nail salon owner. Then came the Atlanta shooting.," 24 Mar. 2021 Meanwhile, AstraZeneca is soon expected to apply for emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine in the US, but some experts fear recent concerns over an announcement of its vaccine data could further contribute to hesitancy. Christina Maxouris, CNN, "A top health official warned relaxing Covid-19 measures threatens progress. A day later, more states said they were easing restrictions," 24 Mar. 2021 The protests ignited because many farmers fear that the laws will eventually kill both the subsidies and the mandi system. New York Times, "Why India’s Farmers Fight to Save a Broken System," 23 Mar. 2021 That type of patchwork of laws is exactly what gun rights activists fear most, said Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs at Gun Owners of America. USA TODAY, "Gun groups' success blocking local firearm controls leaves towns desperate to stop massacres," 23 Mar. 2021 But Biden has proved to be no obstacle to the far-reaching election regulations bill H.R. 1 or the expansive Equality Act, which some religious nonprofit organizations fear will ensnare them in costly litigation over LGBT issues. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "As liberal policies mount, GOP attack lines against Biden come into view," 22 Mar. 2021 Then there's China, which many protesters fear is supporting the coup because of its extensive business interests in Myanmar. USA Today, "What's happening in Myanmar? Military coup and protests explained visually," 20 Mar. 2021

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

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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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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Comments on fear

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