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

Amusement parks rank up there with supermarkets, retail stores and museums on my list of panic-inducing places, because waiting in lines is one of those inexplicable triggers for me. Jennifer Craven, Washington Post, "I thought if I hid my anxiety, I could shield my children. I was wrong.," 12 Aug. 2019 Houston police late Monday released a surveillance image of a person of interest related to the panic at Memorial City Mall. Julian Gill, Houston Chronicle, "Police release image of person of interest related to Memorial City Mall panic," 12 Aug. 2019 Warrants were sought for criminal damaging, inducing panic, trespassing and disorderly conduct. Thomas Jewell, cleveland.com, "Theater vandal released from psych ward: Orange Police Blotter," 8 Aug. 2019 Rosiland met first responders at the apartment then went to the hospital—in a frenzied panic, not surprisingly. Roy S. Johnson | Rjohnson@al.com, al, "Johnson: ’It was like the wild, wild West,' says woman whose mother’s died after beating in public housing apartment," 4 Aug. 2019 My labor pains were getting stronger, and my husband was starting to panic. New York Times, "‘We Began to Look Frantically for Something Resembling a Hospital’," 28 July 2019 Perhaps plastics executives are counting on the force of reason to prevail, or for Asian consumers not to succumb to plastic panic. The Economist, "The inflexibility of plastic," 25 July 2019 Arabic radio broadcasts fanned the panic, warning of massacre and rape. David Degner, Smithsonian, "Two Tour Guides—One Israeli, One Palestinian—Offer a New Way to See the Holy Land," 9 July 2019 At the height of the panic, a homeowner did kill a burglar. Tribune News Service, oregonlive.com, "The Man in the Window: The attacker lingered in houses as he raped, tortured women (Part Three)," 23 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Swimmers often panic and attempt to swim back to shore against the current, fatiguing them in the process, which also increases the risk of drowning. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "An Iowa honeymooner drowned in Florida. It was the first time he’d been swimming in the ocean," 1 Aug. 2019 Swimmers often panic and attempt to swim back to shore against the current, fatiguing them in the process, which also increases the risk of drowning. Allen Kim, CNN, "An Iowa honeymooner drowned in Florida. It was the first time he'd been swimming in the ocean," 31 July 2019 Her parents, panicked after having been alerted by the high school classmate, called Stanford police. Kent Babb / Washington Post, Twin Cities, "MN native and olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin could do it all — until it all became too much," 29 July 2019 But some thudding cinder-block operation filled with our fellow panicked Chicagoans losing their money in tough-to-win games isn’t going to be anything worth having. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "More and more, Vegas relies on shows, concerts — anything but gambling. Chicago needs to learn this lesson now.," 23 July 2019 If Mr Salvini and Mr Di Maio keep their promises and enact lavish spending rises and tax cuts, investors and ratings agencies may again panic. The Economist, "Will Matteo Salvini wreck the euro?," 11 July 2019 Flooding in the Midwest has already panicked the futures markets as traders weigh the possibility of dramatic hikes in the price of livestock feed. Lynn Brezosky, ExpressNews.com, "Beef prices not expected to jump because Midwest flooding," 21 June 2019 Now that the center is panicking, the left senses an opening. Adam Tooze, The New York Review of Books, "Democracy and Its Discontents," 6 June 2019 In the immediate aftermath of the deal, numerous national analysts criticized the Warriors for panicking after the team learned Durant would leave. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "D’Angelo Russell, on the move to Golden State, says he’s an NBA realist," 8 July 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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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 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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