panic

adjective
pan·​ic | \ ˈpa-nik How to pronounce panic (audio) \

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 How to pronounce panicked (audio) \; 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 How to pronounce panicky (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for panic

Synonyms: Noun

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

Synonyms: Verb

affright, alarm (also alarum), fright, frighten, horrify, scare, scarify, 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

As the Fourth of July draws near, booms, sizzles and pops echoing all over the city send many pets into a panic. Marie Fazio, chicagotribune.com, "How to keep panicky pets calm and safe when the fireworks go off," 2 July 2019 The tweet caused panic and confusion in some immigrant communities and among advocates who were unsure what was going to happen. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan has 2nd highest rate of ICE arrests of immigrants," 26 June 2019 Meanwhile, the violence and disorder created by the advance of international Communism was causing a panic. Joseph Loconte, National Review, "Mussolini and the End of Liberal Democracy," 25 June 2019 His voice rose into panic; the wishing well had run dry. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "The Perverse Logic of GoFundMe Health Care," 24 June 2019 The restrictions sent the development world into a panic. Washington Post, "Trump has cut U.S. support for abortions abroad. Canada is now doubling down on that aid.," 5 June 2019 The family beach day comes to an abrupt halt when Jason briefly ducks out of Adelaide’s eyesight, causing her to erupt into a panic. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Us Offers a Terrifying Vision of Judgement Day," 26 Mar. 2019 There were immediate panic-runs on liquor stores and gas stations all around Cairo; then, on the same evening, Morsi abruptly cancelled the taxes. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, "Mohamed Morsi, Who Brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian Presidency," 19 June 2019 The system will respond by crashing, or in the parlance of engineers, entering a kernel panic. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "New vulnerabilities may let hackers remotely SACK Linux and FreeBSD systems," 18 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Officers evacuated panicked shoppers and workers as bystanders tended to the victims in the chaos immediately after the shooting. Evan Sernoffsky, SFChronicle.com, "2 injured, suspects at large in shooting at Tanforan Mall in San Bruno," 2 July 2019 Fireworks can be harmful to animals as well as people, and the Dumb Friends League recommends these steps to prevent pets from panicking and trying to escape their homes: Keep pets indoors and in a quiet, isolated room. Carina Julig, The Denver Post, "Colorado firework laws: What you need to know to keep you and your pets safe on Fourth of July," 27 June 2019 Responding to the access initiative is tricky for banks, who are unlikely to panic or start a war with some of their biggest trading clients. Liz Hoffman, WSJ, "Giant Investors Are Coming After One of Wall Street’s Cash Cows," 26 June 2019 The government has advised people to not panic and instead take precautions. Nupur Anand, Quartz India, "A southern Indian state is in the grip of the deadly Nipah virus again," 5 June 2019 The fear was that many would panic at their first brush with a severe downturn, sell their stocks and lock in the losses. Stan Choe, The Seattle Times, "For young investors, jumpy market presents first big test," 28 Jan. 2019 Rip current safety If you’re caught in a rip current: Don’t panic. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al.com, "Latest beach conditions: Water closed at Panama City Beach, Destin; double red flags posted," 10 June 2019 Andreas Kalbitz , a member of the party’s national leadership, accused other political parties of panicking in the face of AfD’s electoral success. Christoph Noelting, The Seattle Times, "German authorities take aim at far-right party’s youth wing," 4 Sep. 2018 Salem officials then apologized for panicking residents. Molly Harbarger, OregonLive.com, "Salem lifts water advisory after tests confirm drop in toxin levels," 3 June 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 and Noun

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

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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 How to pronounce panic (audio) \

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 How to pronounce panic (audio) \

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 How to pronounce panicked (audio) \; 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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More from Merriam-Webster on panic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with panic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for panic

Spanish Central: Translation of panic

Nglish: Translation of panic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of panic for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about panic

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