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 Truesdell said the fear that students could spread to COVID-19 to one another and to their families remains. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "Soldotna teachers hope a return to in-school classes will help bridge a distance-learning divide," 13 Jan. 2021 In another post to the Facebook group, one member celebrated the fear instilled in federal lawmakers after they were forced to seek safety and shelter in secure locations as the Capitol was overtaken by a violent mob. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, "Maddocks join conservative Facebook group discussing possibility of civil war," 12 Jan. 2021 Trump’s administration for at least another four years and provoke fear in anyone who supports Biden, the legitimate winner of the November election. Amy Cooter, Scientific American, "Militia Expert Warns Trump's Capitol Insurrectionists Could Try Again," 11 Jan. 2021 The social media giants both cited a fear the president would use the platforms to incite further violence. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, "Here are six videos of Democrats calling for violence or physical confrontations that are still active on Twitter," 11 Jan. 2021 His entire journey this episode is from fear to confidence and from book-learning to practical experience. Alice Burton, Vulture, "All Creatures Great and Small," 10 Jan. 2021 Some have gone about their private lives quietly, out of fear that those in their social circles — especially couples — would judge their choices. New York Times, "True Stories of Hooking Up During Covid-19," 10 Jan. 2021 The country is living through unprecedented times, leaving young and old, left and right, experts and average folks grasping for solid ground, their emotions flipping from fear to hope on a daily if not hourly basis. Jill Tucker, SFChronicle.com, "‘Absolute insanity’: Bay Area residents grapple with assault on democracy amid exploding pandemic," 10 Jan. 2021 The composition shows her vulnerability—two clothed men looming over a naked woman—and her face shows fear. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "Isn’t She Good—For a Woman?," 10 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And when respect is unavailable, one resorts to fear. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, "The ‘Shared Psychosis’ of Donald Trump and His Loyalists," 11 Jan. 2021 Our experience with wolves has left us with nothing to fear, their voice is the true sound of wilderness. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, "At a quiet cabin in Alaska, all is calm — if not completely silent — for a dog easily spooked by fireworks," 9 Jan. 2021 As the days wore on, Ms. Heimann began to fear the worst. New York Times, "Infrared Drones, Search Parties and a Lasso: Chasing a Runaway Llama," 1 Jan. 2021 White people, as a whole, do not have to fear being victims of prejudicial hate crimes in the wake of the Nashville suicide bombing. Danielle Campoamor, refinery29.com, "Why Is There Any Hesitation To Call Anthony Quinn Warner A Suicide Bomber?," 29 Dec. 2020 But with Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, there was no reason to fear. Natalie Maher, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Best Songs of 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 The wording of the statement caused some advocates to fear that the program would disappear completely. Michael Schulson/undark, Popular Science, "Our best missing persons database could disappear in a few months," 28 Dec. 2020 Other public health experts say the collection of data is crucial for safely administering doses and patients have little to fear. Los Angeles Times, "Tracking who gets vaccinated is vital for public health, but it’s raising privacy concerns," 28 Dec. 2020 But there was also much reason to fear that a second Great Depression was brewing, for which Trump would be blamed and with which Trump could be saddled during a second term. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "Republicans for Recession," 18 Dec. 2020

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

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear. Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on fear

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