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

Of course, caffeine’s addictive, too — and there isn’t a moral panic about teens drinking coffee. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Is nicotine actually bad for you?," 10 Aug. 2018 Few will feel the urge to spray confetti in this year of the bicentennial of the 1819 panic. James Grant, WSJ, "‘The Panic of 1819’ Review: Easy Money, Bad Decisions," 17 Apr. 2019 Pain will cause havoc upstairs, seeding doubt, anxiety, even panic. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Novak’s Back—and Here Comes Tall John Isner," 12 July 2018 So, if Austin writ large seemed to hold its composure in the face of the final two frenzied days, perhaps panic was staved off by this sense that the bomber’s increasing boldness would lead to his capture. Ben Wear, ajc, "55 hours of terror, and a final blast in Austin serial bombings," 21 Mar. 2018 Berlin and some investors evidently hope this would finally stabilize Deutsche Bank, which has struggled to boost profits since the 2008 global panic.... The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Berlin’s Bad Bank Idea," 14 Mar. 2019 Jami's mentions are filled with fans in utter panic over the doppelganger situation. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "This Fashion Blogger Looks JUST Like Ariana Grande and People Are Losing It," 21 Feb. 2019 Your pain comes with a sense of overwhelming panic. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "How to Know If Your Abdominal Pain Is Physical or Mental," 16 Feb. 2019 Michael’s second-season panic is a gateway to the idea of existentialism—but existentialism isn’t just one thing. Anne T. Donahue, Marie Claire, "How Accurate Is The Good Place's Philosophy?," 31 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Still, taking oral contraception did not prevent me from panicking when something seemed amiss. Therese Shechter, SELF, "Menopause Was the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Me," 13 Mar. 2019 Foundation Cracks: Hairline cracks in a block or poured concrete foundation are nothing to panic about. Jim Gorman, Popular Mechanics, "The DIY Home Inspection Checklist," 30 Mar. 2015 Eve panicked, and ran to look for something to help Villanelle's wound, leaving the assassin free to escape—albeit in pretty bad shape. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "A Quick Recap of Killing Eve Season One, Before the Hit Show Returns," 5 Apr. 2019 People are panicking because Kylie's Twitter banner is currently a huge pic of her and Jordyn from their Kylie x Jordyn Kylie Cosmetics makeup collab. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Why Kylie Jenner Has a Massive Photo of Jordyn Woods as Her Twitter Banner," 1 Apr. 2019 Then, everyone panicked when CBS temporarily replaced the show with another program. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'NCIS' Just Dropped a Major Bombshell About Ducky's Future," 27 Mar. 2019 The Seattle chain probably isn’t panicking, though.... Spencer Jakab, WSJ, "Burger King’s Tears in My Coffee," 18 Mar. 2019 When the first statement was released, many fans understandably panicked that the show was gone for good. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Did Hallmark Cancel 'When Calls the Heart' After Lori Loughlin's Scandal? Here's What We Know," 15 Mar. 2019 Alabama seemed panicked in the third quarter, running a fake field goal into a waiting Clemson defense instead of kicking from 40. Ralph D. Russo, The Seattle Times, "Orange Crush: Clemson topples No. 1 ‘Bama for national title," 8 Jan. 2019

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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