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



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


panicked\ ˈpa-​nikt How to pronounce panic (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

Other Words from panic


panicky \ ˈpa-​ni-​kē How to pronounce panic (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for panic

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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?


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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Nonetheless, there appeared to be little panic, even as the skies started to turn gray. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, 27 Sep. 2022 Cox Medical Center Branson in Missouri acknowledged in September that violence against its workers had tripled over the past year, prompting the facility to give employees panic buttons. Washington Post, 5 Jan. 2022 When it was reported a few hours before Friday's game that Xavier would likely be without several key players, the reaction on social media was largely panic. Adam Baum, The Enquirer, 28 Nov. 2021 If that happens, the most important thing Marvel can do is not panic. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021 Hours before the class gathering, Vu texted Karen Blodgett in a semi-panic. oregonlive, 6 July 2020 The disease is spreading quickly; panic spreads quicker. Anastasia Edel, The New York Review of Books, 22 Mar. 2020 And the more the items disappeared off the shelves, the more panic buying set in. Robert Higgs, cleveland, 9 Apr. 2020 A week earlier, people panic-purchased aisle after aisle of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. oregonlive, 21 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While there wasn't a panic at the Panic at the Disco concert, there were flames. Fox News, 15 Sep. 2022 Lines for cola bottles, strawberry jellies, Flying Saucers and more regularly snaked through the Sky Arts space and when the stand was briefly moved around a corner to make way for a live broadcast, there was mild panic. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 26 Aug. 2022 There was a panic of responsibility in the Seventies, believe it or not. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 25 Aug. 2022 If there was panic in his eyes, no one recognized it. Sarah Schweitzer, Outside Online, 19 July 2022 In perhaps a sign of the times, there was some brief panic at the rally here in Washington yesterday when a man yelled and threw an object into the crowd, sending people running from the stage. CBS News, 12 June 2022 Still, there was no panic in the aftermath of the team's 10-0 shutout at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at American Family Field. Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel, 9 June 2022 In February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, there was panic as thousands of Ukrainians rushed to the banks to withdraw their deposits and use them to flee the war. Rufas Kamau, Forbes, 1 June 2022 There was panic everywhere, and a lot of people said, ‘This is ridiculous! Emily Burack, Town & Country, 21 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Try not to panic, but the monkeypox virus can cause bumps on various parts of the body, including the genital and rectal region. Alyssa Jung, Good Housekeeping, 29 Aug. 2022 Local Russian officials blamed the drone attack on Ukraine and urged residents and beachgoers not to panic, while insisting there had been no injuries and that Russian air defenses were functioning properly. Anton Troianovski,, 20 Aug. 2022 Local Russian officials blamed the drone attack on Ukraine and urged residents and beachgoers not to panic, while insisting there had been no injuries and that Russian air defenses were functioning properly. New York Times, 20 Aug. 2022 There are plenty of reasons for Alabama fans to panic about the Crimson Tide’s uneven performance in a close call at Texas Saturday afternoon. John Talty |, al, 11 Sep. 2022 Gabrielle also urges parents to ask questions about the side effects of asthma medications, noting that some inhalers and medications can increase a patient's heart rate and cause children to panic. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 9 Sep. 2022 Rosario said there is no time for the Guardians to panic, and that the club has faced worse situations already this year. Joe Noga, cleveland, 2 Sep. 2022 The officers then seem to panic and call for a medic. Jimmy Jenkins, The Arizona Republic, 29 Aug. 2022 Shortages of inventory combined with supply chain disruptions have caused consumers to panic buy or go without basic essential items. Sanjay Brahmawar, Forbes, 15 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of panic


circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1b


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

Time Traveler

The first known use of panic was circa 1586

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Statistics for panic

Last Updated

5 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Panic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for panic


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


panicked; panicking

Kids Definition of panic (Entry 2 of 2)

: to feel or cause to feel sudden overpowering fear


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


panicked\ -​ikt How to pronounce panic (audio) \; panicking

Medical Definition of panic (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to affect with panic

intransitive verb

: to be affected with panic

More from Merriam-Webster on panic

Nglish: Translation of panic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of panic for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about panic


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