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 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

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Other Words from panic

Noun

panicky \ ˈpa-​ni-​kē How to pronounce panic (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 Hours before the class gathering, Vu texted Karen Blodgett in a semi-panic. oregonlive, "Even a global pandemic couldn’t stop these Tigard teens from celebrating senior milestones," 6 July 2020 The disease is spreading quickly; panic spreads quicker. Anastasia Edel, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, March 17–22," 22 Mar. 2020 And the more the items disappeared off the shelves, the more panic buying set in. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "One month into coronavirus stay-at-home, finding your favorite brand of TP, other products still a challenge," 9 Apr. 2020 A week earlier, people panic-purchased aisle after aisle of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. oregonlive, "Tape and 2 hours to transform Oregon Convention Center into coronavirus homeless shelter," 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, "N.J. bans gay and transgender 'panic defenses'," 22 Jan. 2020 Over this period, protesters’ violence has been escalating and has reached a very alarming level in the past few days, causing numerous injuries and leading Hong Kong to a chaotic and panic situation. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "Hong Kong leader on first use of emergency powers in 50 years to ban masks," 4 Oct. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Also, Leroy is so wide-eyed with panic throughout this last race while Nany has the disposition of someone picking out groceries, and it’s so funny. Kyndall Cunningham, Vulture, "The Challenge: Double Agents Season-Finale Recap: Win Some, Lose Some," 22 Apr. 2021 The main risk at the time of the shipwreck is panic. Luc-christophe Guillerm, Scientific American, "Coping Strategies of Ocean Castaways Hold Lessons for the COVID Pandemic," 16 Apr. 2021 When the Emorys break the color barrier on their block, their new neighbors panic: West Compton has already begun to see an influx of Black families; East Compton could be next. New York Times, "In ‘Them,’ a Black Family Is Haunted by Real-Life Monsters," 8 Apr. 2021 If the box office can't maintain promising levels, studios will start to panic, leaving theater owners out in the cold once again. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "With light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, the box office is mounting a slow recovery," 12 Mar. 2021 Of helping our loved ones think about what's actually stayed the same, finding proof for the fact that maybe some of that all or nothing thinking, that's leading to our helplessness or our panic or hysteria. Arkansas Democrat-gazette, Arkansas Online, "Coping with Covid virtual panel transcription," 9 Mar. 2021 But a Noor saw only a silhouette and, in his panic, fired from inside the car, killing her. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "The George Floyd Murder Trial: A Charging Nightmare," 7 Mar. 2021 On the table, Lindsey fought her panic as the anesthesia erased her lower body, hidden from sight now by drapes. Eva Holland, Wired, "Premature Babies and the Lonely Terror of a Pandemic NICU," 11 Feb. 2021 Those friends, Max and Diane, and their other friend, Martin, seem to handle their incipient panic by speaking in non sequiturs about Einstein, philosophy, Jesus. Alexander Chee, The New Republic, "Life in the Post-Internet Dystopia," 29 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Coach Brian Voelker, who also praised freshman midfielder Luke Tomack for scoring two goals in the final frame, said the players did not panic despite the three-goal deficit after the first three quarters. Edward Lee, baltimoresun.com, "Towson men’s lacrosse lets 3-goal lead, spot in CAA tournament slip away in 12-11 loss to No. 13 Drexel," 1 May 2021 These, Alice knew now, had been stupid reasons to panic, whereas her present justifications were more reasonable. Ew Staff, EW.com, "Read the first three chapters of Kathy Wang's new spy thriller Impostor Syndrome," 27 Apr. 2021 Twenty games in, with the Padres 10-10, is too early to panic. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Misfiring offense in clutch continues to trip up Padres," 21 Apr. 2021 But news of the pause may have caused folks who’ve had the shot — or who love someone who got it — to panic unnecessarily, says Paul Pottinger, MD, a professor specializing in infectious disease at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Molly Longman, refinery29.com, "How Worried Should You Be About J&J Blood Clotting? Not Too Worried, But Here’s What To Know," 16 Apr. 2021 Health officials are urging Americans not to panic over news that federal agencies issued a recommendation Tuesday for states to pause vaccinations with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of blood clots. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "States halt use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine; Montana bans development of vaccine passports: Live COVID-19 updates," 14 Apr. 2021 Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves urged people not to panic amid dire warnings from experts. DÁnica Coto, Star Tribune, "St. Vincent to evacuate thousands under volcano threat," 8 Apr. 2021 The death count keeps dropping, but one greedy and hard-hearted man, Cottard, who has profited from the plague, and failed to help the plague-stricken, begins to panic. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "How Do Plague Stories End?," 24 Mar. 2021 Tom looks at 10 pages of class notes on cumulus, stratus, and cirrus clouds and starts to panic. Brian Platzer, The Atlantic, "Homeroom: My Son Spends Hours Studying. Then He Forgets Everything.," 23 Mar. 2021

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of panic was circa 1586

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Statistics for panic

Cite this Entry

“Panic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/panic. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 panic (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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Comments on panic

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