terror

noun
ter·​ror | \ ˈter-ər How to pronounce terror (audio) , ˈte-rər \
plural terrors

Definition of terror

1 : a state of intense or overwhelming fear overcome by terror people fleeing the scene in terror He lived in terror of being caught.
2 : violence or the threat of violence used as a weapon of intimidation or coercion a regime that rules by terror especially : violent or destructive acts (such as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands an act of terror the war on terror sometimes used before another noun a terror attack
3 : a very frightening or terrifying aspect the terrors of war
4a : someone or something that inspires fear : scourge I stood before fierce Mrs. Mabel Johnston, his secretary and the terror of the office.— Russell Baker Before rifles were available to Eskimo hunters, bears were truly the terror of their existence.— Charles T. Feazel
b informal : an extremely disruptive or annoying person or thing especially : a misbehaving child : brat Their son is a little terror.

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Other Words from terror

terrorless \ ˈter-​ər-​ləs How to pronounce terrorless (audio) , ˈte-​rər-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for terror

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

Examples of terror in a Sentence

The sound of guns being fired fills me with terror. Many civilians fled in terror. a terror that is still fresh in her memory the terrors of life in the jungle a regime that rules by terror bombings and other acts of terror These people have been living with terror and the threat of terror for many years. a campaign of terror against ethnic minority groups
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Recent Examples on the Web But with that comes a sense of regret and, at times, terror, often all in one song. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, "40 greatest film scores of all time," 6 Sep. 2020 Days after his departure from Dubai, the 66-year-old human rights activist surfaced in Rwanda, paraded in handcuffs, facing terror related charges. Caroline Faraj, CNN, "UAE denies knowledge of Hotel Rwanda film hero's arrest as family raise 'kidnap' fears," 2 Sep. 2020 Mass rape carried out during massacres was a tool of systematic, generalized terror during the country’s 36-year civil war, when citizens and armed insurgencies rose up against the government. Lynn Marie Stephen, The Conversation, "Latin American women are disappearing and dying under lockdown," 24 Aug. 2020 To her terror, Ava begins to fall in love with Edith. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "Has Self-Awareness Gone Too Far in Fiction?," 19 Aug. 2020 Paige vacillated between terror, confusion, sadness and uncertainty, Meyers-Barer recalled. Matthias Gafni, SFChronicle.com, "‘Dad’s been shot’: Harrowing story of a Danville family’s tragic off-roading trip," 7 July 2020 Cursed is a coming-of-age story whose themes are familiar to our own time: the obliteration of the natural world, religious terror, senseless war, and finding the courage to lead in the face of the impossible. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Lady of the Lake takes center stage in Netflix’s Arthurian retelling Cursed," 30 June 2020 Season 4 of Showtime’s killer thriller brought its most chilling terror, Lithgow’s Emmy-winning turn as the Trinity Killer, a modest deacon who was moonlighting as a tri-style serial murderer. Dan Snierson, EW.com, "John Lithgow reveals the roles that fans most recognize him for," 28 June 2020 As my colleague Anne Applebaum has shown, the Soviet Union oversaw famine, terror, and the mass murder of millions. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "America’s Uniquely Humiliating Moment," 24 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'terror.' 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 terror

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for terror

Middle English, from Anglo-French terrour, from Latin terror, from terrēre to frighten; akin to Greek trein to be afraid, flee, tremein to tremble — more at tremble

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Time Traveler for terror

Time Traveler

The first known use of terror was in the 15th century

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Statistics for terror

Last Updated

16 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terror.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terror. Accessed 24 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for terror

terror

noun
How to pronounce terror (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of terror

: a very strong feeling of fear
: something that causes very strong feelings of fear : something that is terrifying
: violence that is committed by a person, group, or government in order to frighten people and achieve a political goal

terror

noun
ter·​ror | \ ˈter-ər How to pronounce terror (audio) \

Kids Definition of terror

1 : a state of great fear They fled in terror.
2 : a cause of great fear All these, however, were mere terrors of the night …— Washington Irving, “Sleepy Hollow”

terror

noun
ter·​ror

Legal Definition of terror

: an intense fear of physical injury or death inflict terror by forced entry or unlawful assembly also : the infliction of such fear an act of terror

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Comments on terror

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