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

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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 In the panic following the attacks, prices had soared as much as 20 percent, to nearly $72 per barrel. Taylor Telford, Washington Post, "Oil prices plunge on report Saudi oil production will be restored sooner than expected," 17 Sep. 2019 This provides some variation and underlines the panic the characters might be feeling. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'All This Victory' ('Jeedar El Sot'): Film Review | Venice 2019," 15 Sep. 2019 The panic around shortages has reached fever pitch, says Ms Iyer—so governments are scrambling to find solutions. The Economist, "A dire scarcity of drugs is worsening, in part, because they are so cheap," 14 Sep. 2019 Extreme heat suffocated others and and the ensuing panic also resulted in trampling deaths. Steven Goode, courant.com, "With hopes of unraveling a 75-year-old mystery, medical examiner’s bid to exhume two unidentified victims of the Hartford Circus Fire gets OK from judge," 11 Sep. 2019 Left Bank Books Was racial profiling behind the mass panic at Newark Airport? Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Joi Ito Resigns as Director of the M.I.T. Media Lab: raceAhead," 9 Sep. 2019 In the immediate panic, rumors said there was more than one killer. Los Angeles Times, "El Paso team travels to shooter’s backyard for a game that brings unity, if not a Hollywood ending," 9 Sep. 2019 Since then, the panic has quieted down—but that doesn't mean the Zika virus has been eradicated. Korin Miller, Health.com, "What to Know About the Zika Virus and Its Symptoms, According to Experts," 21 Aug. 2019 Vox’s Matthew Yglesias joins Today, Explained to discuss the panic. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "What’s up with the yield curve?," 16 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Only one of the pane’s three layers broke—but panicked tourists were sent scrambling. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Chinese Province Closes All of Its Glass Bridges Amid Safety Concerns," 31 Oct. 2019 Now, fans are panicking that another shocking cast change is coming. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "It Sounds Like Severide or Casey Might Be Leaving 'Chicago Fire' and We're Losing It," 30 Oct. 2019 Large raptors were panicking, driven back and forth by something threatening them from above. Nell Zink, Harper's magazine, "The Bird Angle," 28 Oct. 2019 The house was burning down and everyone was panicking. Michael Bennett, BostonGlobe.com, "■ Two star players have had their names bandied about all season: Bengals receiver," 27 Oct. 2019 Down 13-0 in the first half, Kentucky players could have panicked. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "How getting to know their teammates helped Kentucky football players beat Arkansas," 13 Oct. 2019 Some neighbors were panicking and blowing through stop signs. Los Angeles Times, "For Porter Ranch, Saddleridge fire is the latest disaster on a growing list," 12 Oct. 2019 Teens love e-cigarettes Long before an 18-year-old in Wisconsin walked into her doctor’s office gasping for air in July, public health officials, parents, and pediatricians were panicking about the rate at which teens were taking up vaping. Jenni Avins, Quartz, "How to make sense of the vaping crisis," 9 Oct. 2019 President Trump's allies aren't panicking over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump. CBS News, "Trump allies aren't panicking over Nancy Pelosi's impeachment inquiry announcement," 24 Sep. 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

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for panic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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