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pho·​bia ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce phobia (audio)
: an exaggerated usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation


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noun combining form

: exaggerated fear of
: intolerance or aversion for

Examples of phobia in a Sentence

Noun His fear of crowds eventually developed into a phobia.
Recent Examples on the Web
The balance between witty humor and monster mayhem is perfectly calibrated, with John Goodman bringing the laughs as a gregarious exterminator and Jeff Daniels providing twitchy paranoia as a small-town doctor with an intense phobia of all things arachnid. Katie Rife,, 19 Oct. 2023 If your reaction to rodents seems irrational, talk to a mental health professional about the root of your phobia and what might be done about it. Sara Novak, Discover Magazine, 27 Dec. 2023 Early Trauma and Rodent Phobia While most of us fear or don’t like small rodents, a smaller portion of us have a phobia that may stem from a childhood trauma that led us to fear rodents into adulthood. Sara Novak, Discover Magazine, 27 Dec. 2023 These are the 10 films that, in my view, exemplify the central role of cinema in working out our collective neuroses, fears, phobias and socio-political anxieties. Steven Gaydos, Variety, 21 Dec. 2023 His satirical pieces often took aim at the political phobias of the day. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 In 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control added a few pages about needle fears and phobias to their website, including guidance for both adults and the parents of young children. Haley Weiss, TIME, 12 Oct. 2023 While some mental illnesses are related to anxiety, emotional disconnections or social phobias, others are more distinct and debilitating. Daryl Austin, USA TODAY, 17 Aug. 2023 Advertisement There were reported gender differences: For men, alcohol abuse had the highest prevalence, followed by major depressive disorder and specific phobias. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History




Noun combining form

New Latin, from Late Latin, from Greek, from -phobos fearing, from phobos fear, flight, from phebesthai to flee; akin to Lithuanian bėgti to flee, Old Church Slavonic běžati

First Known Use


1786, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phobia was in 1786

Dictionary Entries Near phobia

Cite this Entry

“Phobia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


pho·​bia ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce phobia (audio)
: an unreasonable, abnormal, and lasting fear of something

Medical Definition


pho·​bia ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce phobia (audio)
: an exaggerated and often disabling fear usually inexplicable to the subject and having sometimes a logical but usually an illogical or symbolic object, class of objects, or situation compare compulsion, obsession
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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