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 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 In 2018, Democratic members of Congress introduced a bill that would ban gay and trans panic defenses in federal court. Tim Fitzsimons, NBC News, 22 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun False reports of an active shooter sent fans into a panic early Sunday morning (May 29) during a boxing match at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, 1 June 2022 In Newton, a doctor who had been planning to wear a lacy black sheath and platform sandals was thrown into sartorial panic when the formal invite to the event arrived. Globe Staff,, 16 May 2022 But in the market for cryptocurrencies, unease has morphed into full-on panic, catching the attention of regulators in Washington tasked with maintaining financial stability. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 12 May 2022 With the nationwide shortage of baby formula sending parents into panic, many are looking for a solution to feed their little ones. Stefani Sassos, Ms, Rdn, Cso, Cdn, Nasm-cpt, Good Housekeeping, 12 May 2022 Log4j rightly sent many IT professionals into a panic. Carlos Morales, Forbes, 2 May 2022 The dog bites sent students into a panic and the school into lockdown, reports said. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 29 Apr. 2022 But authorities indicated that Spencer’s online footprint provided insight into the shooting that sent one of the busiest avenues in D.C. into panic and launched armored vehicles and helicopters into the area during a frantic search for the gunman. Washington Post, 23 Apr. 2022 And this little girl came running up to her dad in a panic. New York Times, 10 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Analysts say that, for now, long-term stock holders don't need to panic about selling, even if the declines continue. Rob Wile, NBC News, 20 May 2022 While the framework is in place to deal with an economic downturn, lawmakers don’t need to panic just yet. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2022 The bottom line: At this point, there’s no need to panic. Korin Miller, SELF, 4 May 2022 Last-minute shoppers don’t need to panic to find the best gifts for Valentine’s Day. Nicole Charky-chami, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Feb. 2022 The woman’s daughter began to panic in the car, begging her mother to leave. Angie Dimichele,, 17 June 2021 People tend to panic when investing in the markets and the market has a downturn. Melissa Houston, Forbes, 1 June 2022 Inside the vehicle, Floyd had started to panic, still searching for the keys. Washington Post, 9 May 2022 According to a 2018 Detroit Free Press article, experts said the first step to getting out of a car that won't open is not to panic. Jason Duaine Hahn,, 18 Mar. 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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Cite this Entry

“Panic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 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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