fearful

adjective
fear·​ful | \ ˈfir-fəl How to pronounce fearful (audio) \

Definition of fearful

1 : causing or likely to cause fear, fright, or alarm especially because of dangerous quality a fearful storm
2a : full of fear fearful for his safety
b : indicating or arising from fear a fearful glance
c : inclined to fear : timorous
3 : very great or bad used as an intensive a fearful wastefearful slum conditions

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from fearful

fearfully \ ˈfir-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce fearfully (audio) \ adverb
fearfulness \ ˈfir-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce fearfulness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for fearful

fearful, apprehensive, afraid mean disturbed by fear. fearful implies often a timorous or worrying temperament. the child is fearful of loud noises apprehensive suggests a state of mind and implies a premonition of evil or danger. apprehensive of being found out afraid often suggests weakness or cowardice and regularly implies inhibition of action or utterance. afraid to speak the truth

Examples of fearful in a Sentence

He plays the role of a timid and fearful clerk. They won the war but at a fearful cost.

Recent Examples on the Web

Given the administration’s attempt to disregard administrative law in the attempt to add the census question, however, there is ample reason to be fearful that these protections may not be enough. Adam Eichen, The New Republic, "Advocates Want Everyone Counted, No Matter the Fate of the Citizenship Question," 27 June 2019 Officials took away the shoelaces of the undocumented immigrants, fearful about the safety of those in custody. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump team cannot get its story straight on separating migrant families," 18 June 2018 Some buyers, fearful about the long-term safety concerns, are unwilling to pay any price to live near the pipeline. Andrew Maykuth, Philly.com, "How Sunoco's Mariner East pipeline is affecting real estate prices in Pa's Chester and Delaware Counties," 1 June 2018 Many of us know or remember the fearful, trusting embrace of a child. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, "Column: I can’t get my mind off the final, frantic embrace of the drowning girl and her father," 27 June 2019 Andean farmers, caught between the army and the Shining Path, and fearful of all outsiders, sometimes attacked the wrong people. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 But Willick’s young daughter remained fearful for years. Tribune News Service, oregonlive.com, "The Man in the Window: Closing in on DeAngelo (Part Four)," 23 June 2019 Know your dog: Dogs who are fearful of other dogs, strangers, loud noises or crowds shouldn't be brought to restaurants until they are properly socialized and feel comfortable in that environment. Dallas News, "Dog About Town: Parties in the park and on the patio and more things to do," 7 June 2019 Nobody wearing a Jeb(!) fleece is going to get fearful, horrified looks. Jennifer Wright, Harper's BAZAAR, "How the MAGA Hat Became a Symbol of Hate," 31 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fearful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of fearful

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fearful

Middle English feerful, fereful "inspiring dread, frightened," from fer fear entry 1 + -ful -ful entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fearful

Statistics for fearful

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fearful

The first known use of fearful was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fearful

fearful

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of fearful

: feeling fear
: showing or caused by fear
: very bad or extreme

fearful

adjective
fear·​ful | \ ˈfir-fəl How to pronounce fearful (audio) \

Kids Definition of fearful

1 : causing fear the fearful roar of a lion
2 : filled with fear I was fearful of failing the test.
3 : showing or caused by fear a fearful expression

Other Words from fearful

fearfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb
fearfulness noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fearful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fearful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fearful

Spanish Central: Translation of fearful

Nglish: Translation of fearful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fearful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on fearful

What made you want to look up fearful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!