panic

adjective
pan·ic | \ˈpa-nik \

Definition of panic 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : of, relating to, or resembling the mental or emotional state believed induced by the god Pan panic fear

2 : of, relating to, or arising from a panic panic buying panic selling a panic retreat

3 : of or relating to the god Pan Panic rites

panic

noun

Definition of panic (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a sudden overpowering fright also : acute, extreme anxiety

b : a sudden unreasoning terror often accompanied by mass flight widespread panic in the streets

c : a sudden widespread fright concerning financial affairs that results in a depression of values caused by extreme measures for protection of property (such as securities)

2 dated slang : someone or something that is very funny : riot

panic

verb
panicked\ˈpa-nikt \; panicking

Definition of panic (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to affect with panic

2 : to cause to laugh uproariously panic an audience with a gag

intransitive verb

: to be affected with panic

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Other Words from panic

Noun

panicky \ˈpa-ni-kē \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for panic

Synonyms: Noun

alarm (also alarum), anxiety, dread, fear, fearfulness, fright, horror, scare, terror, trepidation

Synonyms: Verb

alarm (also alarum), fright, frighten, horrify, scare, shock, spook, startle, terrify, terrorize

Antonyms: Verb

reassure

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Choose the Right Synonym for panic

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

Did You Know?

Noun

Panic comes to us from French panique, which in turn derives from Greek panikos, meaning literally "of Pan." Pan is the pipe-playing, nymph-chasing Greek god of fertility, pastures, flocks, and shepherds. (His name is a Doric contraction of paon, meaning "pasturer.") He also has a rather dark side - his shout is said to have instilled fear in the giants fighting the gods, and the Greeks believed him responsible for causing the Persians to flee in terror at the battle of Marathon. Panic entered our language first as an adjective suggesting the mental or emotional state that Pan was said to induce. The adjective first appeared in print at the beginning of the 17th century, and the noun followed about a century later.

Examples of panic in a Sentence

Noun

He was in a panic when he realized how late he was. There's no reason to get into a panic. The villagers fled in panic from the approaching army. The crowd was in a state of panic. She has panic attacks whenever she has to speak in public.

Verb

If something goes wrong, don't panic. The deer, panicked by the headlights, ran in front of the car.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The park constables were apparently panic struck, and incapable of acting. Longreads, "Where Have You Hidden the Cholera?," 5 Apr. 2018 The report also praised the prohibition of the use of gay and trans panic defenses in Illinois. NBC News, "129 anti-LGBTQ state bills were introduced in 2017, new report says," 12 Jan. 2018 Panic buttons were pushed everywhere after Seattle started the season 2-4, but the two-time defending N.F.C. champion Seahawks rallied to an 8-2 finish. Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, "N.F.L. Wild-Card Playoff Schedule and Picks," 8 Jan. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

So far, this adds up to a nasty bout of the jitters rather than full-blown panic. The Economist, "Italy’s political crisis is roiling financial markets once more," 31 May 2018 Four others died in a strike in Pakistan's northwest, spreading panic in the country. NBC News, "More than 100 people killed in Pakistan election violence," 14 July 2018 Both men saw their chance of the big time after Japanese forces attacked Shanghai’s Chinese districts in 1937, leaving the international concessions as islands in a sea of panic and devastation. The Economist, "A gripping tale of Sodom sliding towards its bloody end," 12 July 2018 The bad guys take Will’s daughter, Georgia (McKenna Roberts), hostage and to get her back, Will needs to open the 10-inch titanium doors of The Pearl’s panic room on the 220th floor. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "'Skyscraper': 5 totally preposterous moments where Dwayne Johnson has to save the day," 11 July 2018 Gareth Southgate became England manager after one game of the qualifying series after Sam Allardyce was sacked amid an FA panic following the flimsiest of newspaper exposés. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "Croatia's Character, Resiliency on Full Display in Shocking Run to World Cup Final," 11 July 2018 The election of a president who had been, among other things, caught on tape making gleefully misogynistic remarks inspired a credible panic in some women and others who feared their civil rights might soon be further jeopardized. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 2 Is Brutal and Not Much Else," 11 July 2018 Humor offered a relief from their sufferings and a defense against inescapable panic and anxiety. Brendan Leonard, Outside Online, "Learning to Be Funny," 9 July 2018 For Harper, the next 52 minutes unfolded in a jumble of panic and incredulity: Who were these people? Why was she being targeted? Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "A scary phone scam targeting Anchorage residents involves fake kidnappings, ransom demands," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There is a calmness which has filtered down from the manager to the players, who do not panic under pressure. SI.com, "The Stars are Aligned in Russia 2018 for Underdogs Croatia to Seize the Ultimate Footballing Prize," 8 July 2018 For the most part, the typical insect bite will not transmit these illnesses, so don’t panic. Dipesh Navsaria, Houston Chronicle, "What parents should know to prevent — and deal with — bug bites," 6 July 2018 Pamela Barr, who lives in the building, said she was awakened by fire alarms and didn't panic because false alarms are not uncommon. Christopher Weber And Michael Balsamo, Fox News, "California firefighter shot, killed at retirement home," 25 June 2018 Pamela Barr, who lives in the building, said she was awakened by fire alarms and didn't panic because false alarms are not uncommon. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of California firefighter," 25 June 2018 Police now believe there was never a shooter, but visitors panicked and rushed to exits, officials said. Howard Blume, latimes.com, "Fight at Ontario Mills mall sparks panic and leads to evacuation," 8 July 2018 At the time, Santa Cruz police said a surveillance video showed Tichelman panicking and attempting to revive Hayes before gathering her belongings, stepping over his body to finish a glass of wine and leaving him on the yacht without seeking help. Molly Sullivan, sacbee, "Folsom prostitute convicted in death of Google exec now charged in ex-boyfriend's fatal OD," 27 June 2018 Adams rushed up with his knife, but Foster panicked and forgot to play possum, as Adams had told him to do. Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "The original Grizzly Adams kept his bears on a chain in SF," 7 July 2018 The most important thing to remember when encountering a browser window displaying a tech-support scam message is to not panic and to never call the phone numbers displayed. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Tech-support scammers revive bug that sends Chrome users into a panic," 4 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'panic.' 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 panic

Adjective

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Verb

1780, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for panic

Adjective

French panique, from Greek panikos, literally, of Pan, from Pan

Noun

see panic entry 1

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Phrases Related to panic

push/hit/press the panic button

Statistics for panic

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Time Traveler for panic

The first known use of panic was circa 1586

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More Definitions for panic

panic

noun

English Language Learners Definition of panic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a state or feeling of extreme fear that makes someone unable to act or think normally

: a situation that causes many people to become afraid and to rush to do something

panic

verb

English Language Learners Definition of panic (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be overcome with extreme fear : to be affected by panic

: to cause (a person or animal) to feel extreme fear : to cause (a person or animal) to feel panic

panic

noun
pan·ic | \ˈpa-nik \

Kids Definition of panic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a sudden overpowering fear often without reasonable cause … it didn't matter … that she was a good swimmer because … in her panic she swallowed water …— Kevin Henkes, Olive's Ocean

panic

verb
panicked; panicking

Kids Definition of panic (Entry 2 of 2)

: to feel or cause to feel sudden overpowering fear

panic

noun
pan·ic | \ˈpan-ik \

Medical Definition of panic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a sudden overpowering fright also : acute extreme anxiety

2 : a sudden unreasoning terror often accompanied by mass flight widespread panic in the streets

panic

verb
panicked\-ikt \; panicking

Medical Definition of panic (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to affect with panic

intransitive verb

: to be affected with panic

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Comments on panic

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