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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The suffering in India, which has overtaken Brazil as the pandemic’s global epicenter, has sown fear among the population, which is facing drastic shortages of hospital beds, oxygen, and medications. BostonGlobe.com, "Mass. residents from India, Brazil watch COVID-19 horrors unfold in their native countries," 3 May 2021 The use of the concepts has been shown to lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime and an improvement in the quality of life for homeowners. Linda Gandee, cleveland, "Police officers honored in Westlake; road and sewer work continues," 3 May 2021 Many congressional Republicans secretly share Cheney’s views but are tired of litigating Trump’s presidency and fear antagonizing him. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Trump's White House exit diminishes Never Trump faction," 3 May 2021 Several current members characterize HFPA leadership as increasingly secretive and describe a climate of fear in which information — including details of board meetings with NBC — is tightly controlled and leakers are castigated. Los Angeles Times, "Golden Globes organization vowed to change. Then came turmoil. What went wrong?," 2 May 2021 Like the discussion around young migrants, that decision alternately reflects a distorted fear of children and an indifference to them. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Joe Biden, the Republicans, and Kids’ Stuff," 2 May 2021 Some physicians blamed cholera on alcohol consumption, others on sadness or fear. Edna Bonhomme, The Atlantic, "Germany’s Anti-Vaccination History Is Riddled With Anti-Semitism," 2 May 2021 Adding to that pain is the fear that Ericka’s case may go unsolved. Logan Johnson, NBC News, "Loved ones hoping reward offered by Cleveland Cavaliers will lead to answers in murder of Ericka Weems six months after she was shot at Ohio home," 2 May 2021 And there's just this sense of fear circulating across the city right now. ABC News, "'This Week' Transcript 5-2-21: Jake Sullivan, Sen. John Barrasso, Adm. Mike Mullen & Dr. Ashish Jha," 2 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Will opponents fear what the Buckeyes bring off the edge down after down? Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football’s big 2021 NFL Draft class lacked elite defensive punch needed this fall: Buckeye Take," 4 May 2021 Fans of the fast-casual eatery that specializes in the Hawaiian delicacy of marinated raw tuna need not fear: The Poke House will operate out of the same location as a ghost kitchen. Rod Stafford Hagwood, sun-sentinel.com, "‘Big Brother’ star Memphis Garrett adds Fort Lauderdale cocktail parlor to his eats empire," 3 May 2021 Arkert and water experts like Surina Esterhuyse, a professor at the University of the Free State in South Africa, fear large-scale oil production could also have an extreme impact on the local population. Peter Rudden, CNN, "A Canadian oil firm thinks it has struck big. Some fear it could ravage a climate change hotspot," 3 May 2021 If that sounds like too big an ask, fear not, as there are plenty of family-friendly activities happening this week and weekend in Central Florida that will be easy to say yes to. Kathleen Christiansen, orlandosentinel.com, "Say yes to these family-friendly events in Central Florida," 28 Apr. 2021 In the case of the rainbow flags, the school corporation may fear being perceived as putting out a viewpoint. Amy Lavalley, chicagotribune.com, "Chesterton flag flap reminds former teacher of poster complaint two decades ago," 16 Apr. 2021 Some people may still fear interaction and Miller said programs to help will be needed more than ever. Lindsey Tanner, Anchorage Daily News, "Loneliness is rampant. A simple call, or hug, may be a cure," 15 Apr. 2021 And Kusama lovers fear not: There will be an Infinity Room. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "Yayoi Kusama’s Joyful Outdoor Show Is the Art Event We’ve Been Waiting For," 12 Apr. 2021 At the same time, people shouldn’t fear the police. E. Alex Jung, Vulture, "In Conversation: Daniel Dae Kim," 12 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fear

Time Traveler for fear

Time Traveler

The first known use of fear was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for fear

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on fear

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!