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

Eli’s ambition, coupled with the fear of losing his wealth, motivates his need for that obscene excess. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Tragicomedy of the American Dream," 16 Sep. 2019 The pressure on the price, however, comes not just from the big cut in production, but from the mounting fear of conflict—ie, of much more severe disruption to come. The Economist, "The attack on Saudi oil facilities raises the risks of war," 16 Sep. 2019 Think of McKinnon as Jeff Sessions, whose intolerance of the gay community and fear of women is comedic gold. Lorraine Ali, chicagotribune.com, "Commentary: ‘SNL’ deserves the Shane Gillis backlash. It’s been courting liberals for years," 15 Sep. 2019 Now the market could face new obstacles, from growing fears of a recession, to changes in tax law and political instability heading into an election year. New York Times, "One in Four of New York’s New Luxury Apartments Is Unsold," 13 Sep. 2019 But as the Trump administration's trade war with China heats up, a leading Chinese economist gave voice to the worst fears of U.S. policymakers in March, in a speech to an annual national congress. NBC News, "U.S. officials worried about Chinese control of American drug supply," 12 Sep. 2019 In January, the food company announced a voluntary recall of the same bags over fears of salmonella contamination. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "Gold Medal Flour Is Being Recalled Over Possible E. Coli Contamination," 17 Sep. 2019 Flores’ reputation with the New England Patriots was motivating players through respect, not the fear of his mentor, Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, "Hyde: No way Dolphins should give in and trade Fitzpatrick | Commentary," 16 Sep. 2019 The strike is unfolding as President Trump’s trade war with China wears on manufacturers and has stirred fears of a slowdown. Neal E. Boudette, New York Times, "G.M. Strike: 50,000 Union Workers Walk Out Over Wages and Idled Plants," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Visitors, however, shielded by a determined tourism industry, need not fear the slightest hassle. Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, "Puerto Rico bounces back from storms, protests as prime tourist destination," 17 Sep. 2019 But a number of cities have balked, fearing they could get steamrolled by San Diego and at least one other member, thus eroding local control. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Community choice energy across San Diego on the cusp of becoming reality," 16 Sep. 2019 Strahan has become so maddening, or feared, that officials at some environmental and fishing groups asked that the Globe not even describe them as declining to comment, worrying that any mention of their organization might invite another lawsuit. BostonGlobe.com, "The ‘Prince of Whales’ wages a relentless and abrasive fight to save a species," 15 Sep. 2019 Oil prices jumped as investors feared that attacks on oil tankers risked a disruption of shipments in the Strait of Hormuz, which passes by Iran and is the most important place on the planet to the global supply of oil. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Australia names academic held in Iran for almost a year," 14 Sep. 2019 Trump, however, is perpetually torn between wanting to wash his hands of this war and fearing the humiliation of defeat. Steve Chapman, chicagotribune.com, "Column: How Trump should deal with Afghanistan, the Taliban and an unwinnable war," 13 Sep. 2019 Consequently, no book on the controversy can be worth fearing or loathing. Nicholas Frankovich, National Review, "The Eternal Debate over the Nature of Hell," 12 Sep. 2019 Hong Kong has seen mass demonstrations since June, which were sparked initially by a controversial extradition bill that heightened fears the city was losing its autonomy from mainland China. Vivienne Chow, Quartz, "Singing showdowns in Hong Kong pit the city’s unofficial new anthem against China’s," 12 Sep. 2019 Garcia notes that the administration's increasing pressure on immigrant populations within the U.S. has only added to the growing legions of homeless, as federal assistance continues to dry up and immigrants fear applying for aid. Michele Chandler, USA TODAY, "Trump officials look to fix California homeless problem, state officials say back off," 10 Sep. 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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Learn More about fear

Dictionary Entries near fear

feal

feal and divot

fealty

fear

Fear, Cape

feared

fear for

Statistics for fear

Last Updated

5 Oct 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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