reign of terror

noun phrase

: a state or a period of time marked by violence often committed by those in power that produces widespread terror

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Their nearly four-year reign of terror, from 1975-79, ultimately killed more than 1.7 million people. Michael Warren,, 29 Apr. 2023 Their mutual reign of terror begins in the parking lot of a home improvement store. Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune, 6 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'reign of terror.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Reign of Terror, a period of the French Revolution that was conspicuous for mass executions of political suspects

First Known Use

1784, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of reign of terror was in 1784

Dictionary Entries Near reign of terror

Cite this Entry

“Reign of terror.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition

reign of terror

: a period marked by violence that is often carried out by those in power and produces terror among the people involved

More from Merriam-Webster on reign of terror

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