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 The pervasive fear of surveillance has been updated for the digital age. Catherine Edwards, Quartzy, "Two new political thrillers are tailor-made for our age of paranoia," 27 Nov. 2019 Later that year, just before Christmas, their fears were realized when 1-year-old Eli Hotaling got into an open liquid nicotine bottle in an upstate New York home. Terry Demio, Cincinnati.com, "Vape juice can kill kids. A vaping law's slow rollout left them at risk of nicotine poison," 25 Nov. 2019 Without a bankruptcy law that enables companies to continue operating after filing, no one would be willing to lend to the company or provide equipment, for fear of not getting paid. Arkansas Online, "California fire victims forced to back of line; bankruptcy law puts earlier losses last," 24 Nov. 2019 The fear just got real for anyone who’s been closely watching the successful run of India’s digital dream over the past few years. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Will Jio raising tariffs make India’s data boom go bust?," 21 Nov. 2019 Since white meat cooks faster than dark meat, the fear of drying out the breast meat is an annual reality. The New York Times News Service Syndicate, The Denver Post, "The sous-vide machine to the rescue," 20 Nov. 2019 Daniella would report it to CPS, for fear of being found harboring a runaway in state custody. Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic, "Criminalizing 'children who have been traumatized': How foster care led to prison," 20 Nov. 2019 Owning the term didn’t rid me of the burden, but naming my fear lightened the load. Haley Swanson, Glamour, "‘I Had to Practice Saying I Was Raped. Now I Have to Practice Saying I Have PTSD’," 14 Nov. 2019 The fear is that any dividend cuts could trigger a larger sell-off of the stock. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Oxy looks to sell some assets in Wyoming, Colorado: Report," 12 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb An estimated 30 protesters, fearing arrest, are still hiding inside the Polytechnic University. Ken Moritsugu, chicagotribune.com, "Pro-democracy candidates win in landslide after massive election turnout in Hong Kong," 25 Nov. 2019 An estimated 30 protesters, fearing arrest, are still hiding inside the Polytechnic University. Arkansas Online, "Hong Kong leader vows to 'seriously reflect' on election," 25 Nov. 2019 Soros fears that weakening Western tech companies would allow authoritarian regimes like the Chinese government, which actively exports its surveillance systems, to leapfrog the rest of the world. Brian Barth, The New Yorker, "Big Tech’s Big Defector," 25 Nov. 2019 That’s when the second cousin started to run away, fearing for his life, police said. Jay R. Jordan, Houston Chronicle, "Armed robbers shoot man fleeing heist in southeast Houston neighborhood," 25 Nov. 2019 But for decades the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) feared the implications of this. The Economist, "Ethiopia’s Sidama people vote for autonomy," 23 Nov. 2019 The most notorious of them had been banned in the United States and abroad and rejected by US publishers fearing prosecution for obscenity. BostonGlobe.com, "His lists also included William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” (1962), many US editions of Simone de Beauvoir and much of Art Buchwald’s humor.," 21 Nov. 2019 The most notorious of them had been banned in the United States and abroad and rejected by American publishers fearing prosecution for obscenity. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Walter J. Minton, Publisher Who Defied Censors, Dies at 96," 20 Nov. 2019 No one was injured by the explosions, but the big bangs spread fear through the region. oregonlive, "‘BPA Bomber’ threatened to cause blackout in Portland 45 years ago; FBI followed duck calls to get their man," 14 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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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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear?src=search-dict-hed. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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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