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

But Rebecca Robertson, founding president and executive producer of the Park Avenue Armory, dismisses such fears. Chloe Malle, Town & Country, "Is the Shed the Defining Arts Institution of a New New York City?," 14 Mar. 2019 Proponents of either theory point towards a number of clues: that the Titanic didn't allow for a public examination before its voyage—out of fear that it would be found out by experts as Olympic in disguise, theorists claim. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Wild Conspiracy That the Titanic Never Sank," 27 Feb. 2019 Miller heavily implied that the accusers and magistrates of Salem were motivated by a combination of fear and greed, including a desire to seize the lands of the accused. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Trump’s favorite slander against Robert Mueller’s investigation has a very long history.," 26 Jan. 2019 Horror can also be about stress, anxiety, and a fear. Kellee Terrell, Harper's BAZAAR, "Jen McGowan's Feminist Horror Rust Creek Is Exactly What Hollywood Needs Right Now," 22 Jan. 2019 Federal officials have raised fears that at least six of the sites examined by AP could have blowouts like the one at Gold King. Matthew Brown, The Seattle Times, "50M gallons of polluted water pours daily from US mine sites," 20 Feb. 2019 Harper and Machado remained on the market, their continuing unemployment stoking fears of labor unrest and raising existential questions about the... Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Manny Machado, Padres Agree to 10-Year, $300 Million Deal," 19 Feb. 2019 The two offered competing talking points similar to those that worked well for each of them in their respective presidential campaigns: Trump focused on fear-mongering, while Obama focused on the need for unity. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "Barack Obama and Donald Trump Brought Their Respective Brands of Hope and Fear to the 2018 Midterm Campaign Trail," 5 Nov. 2018 Politically, things could not have been more nightmarish: Heartbreaking violence, misdirection in the form of anti-immigrant fear-mongering, and a president who’s seemingly uninterested in doing the right thing—this is what dominated the headlines. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "This Week in Timothée Chalamet, November 2 Edition," 2 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Americans justifiably fear that robots are going to take our jobs. Joe Queenan, WSJ, "Robots Will End Up Goofing Off Like the Rest of Us," 14 Mar. 2019 Beth fears giving up her new teaching job to suit her family's needs. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "This Is Us Producers Answer All Your Questions About Kate and Toby's Baby," 13 Mar. 2019 Many fear that a peace agreement with the Taliban will erode the faltering progress made since their ouster. Kathy Gannon, The Seattle Times, "Powerful political leader warns against squandering peace," 20 Feb. 2019 But while the return of park rangers is undoubtedly a cause for celebration, many fear the damages incurred during the historic shutdown will require a long recovery period. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "For National Parks, The End of the Shutdown Means the Hard Part Begins," 28 Jan. 2019 With LanCaster losing consciousness in the dwindling oxygen supply and getting thrashed by fierce winds, the crew feared the worst outcome. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "8 Emergency Landings That Rival the 'Miracle on the Hudson'," 15 Jan. 2019 Lippmann feared that the citizenry would abandon the public square and give themselves over to propaganda. Sean Illing, Vox, "Intellectuals have said democracy is failing for a century. They were wrong.," 20 Dec. 2018 At this point, Mr. Elsharkawi feared for his safety. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Man sues feds after being detained for refusing to unlock his phone at airport," 18 Dec. 2018 All three phones will also feature something the many feared was going away: Olixar has a hole cut out on the bottom of its cases for a 3.5mm headphone jack. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Samsung Galaxy S10 renders show hole-punch camera, headphone jack, and no fingerprint sensor," 13 Dec. 2018

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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Learn More about fear

Dictionary Entries near fear

feal

feal and divot

fealty

fear

Fear, Cape

feared

fear for

Statistics for fear

Last Updated

23 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

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

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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