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[feer] /fɪər/
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling:
an abnormal fear of heights.
concern or anxiety; solicitude:
a fear for someone's safety.
reverential awe, especially toward God:
the fear of God.
something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of:
Cancer is a common fear.
anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur:
Having grown up during the Great Depression, he had a constant fear of running out of money.
verb (used with object)
to regard with fear; be afraid of.
Synonyms: apprehend, dread.
to have reverential awe of.
Synonyms: revere, venerate, honor.
to consider or anticipate (something unpleasant) with a feeling of dread or alarm:
It's about to snow again, I fear.
Archaic. to experience fear in (oneself):
I fear me he will ne'er forgive us.
verb (used without object)
to have fear; be afraid:
I'll go with you, so do not fear!
to feel apprehensive or uneasy (usually followed by for):
In this time of economic instability, I fear for my children's future.
for fear of / that, in order to prevent or avoid the risk of:
She is afraid to say anything for fear of the consequences.
put the fear of God in / into, to cause to be greatly afraid.
Origin of fear
before 900; Middle English fere, Old English fær sudden attack or danger; cognate with Old Saxon fār ambush, Dutch gevaar, German Gefahr danger, Old Norse fār disaster
Related forms
self-fearing, adjective
unfearing, adjective
Synonym Study
Fear, alarm, dread all imply a painful emotion experienced when one is confronted by threatening danger or evil. Alarm implies an agitation of the feelings caused by awakening to imminent danger; it names a feeling of fright or panic: He started up in alarm. Fear and dread usually refer more to a condition or state than to an event. Fear is often applied to an attitude toward something, which, when experienced, will cause the sensation of fright: fear of falling. Dread suggests anticipation of something, usually a particular event, which, when experienced, will be disagreeable rather than frightening: She lives in dread of losing her money. The same is often true of fear, when used in a negative statement: She has no fear of losing her money.
Related Quotations
“Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.“
—Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’: How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America“ The Washington Post (March 25, 2007)
“What we, following the Scriptures, call the fear of God, is not terror or dread, but an awe that holds God in reverence.“
—Martin Luther, The communion of the Christian with God: Described on the basis of Luther's statements by Wilhelm Herrmann, transl. by J. Sandys Stanyon, revised by R. W. Stewart (1906)
“I have a huge need for financial security; the immigrant in me has a fear of ending up homeless and in the gutter.“
—Ruth Behar, Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's Story (2003)
“To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.“
—Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals (1929)
“I fear we are all in your black books.“
—Anthony Trollope, The Three Clerks (1858)
“[T]here may be dark abysses before which intelligence must be silent, for fear of going mad.“
—George Santayana, The Essential Santayana: Selected Writings compiled by Martin A. Coleman (2009)


[feer] /fɪər/
a river in SE North Carolina. 202 miles (325 km) long.
Cape, a cape at its mouth. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for fear
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I hold that a man has more to fear there from the ink-pot of the one than from the iron of the other.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • All time he think he no speak to her for fear he lose sight of elephant.

    Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow
  • I dare not turn around my head, for fear of being recognized.

    Shoulder-Straps Henry Morford
  • What crops of wit and honesty appear From spleen, from obstinacy, hate, or fear!

    Essay on Man Alexander Pope
  • If you do what is right and honourable what is there to fear?

    The Northern Iron George A. Birmingham
British Dictionary definitions for fear


a feeling of distress, apprehension, or alarm caused by impending danger, pain, etc
a cause of this feeling
awe; reverence: fear of God
concern; anxiety
possibility; chance: there is no fear of that happening
for fear of, for fear that, for fear lest, to forestall or avoid
no fear, certainly not
put the fear of God into, to frighten
to be afraid (to do something) or of (a person or thing); dread
(transitive) to revere; respect
(transitive; takes a clause as object) to be sorry: used to lessen the effect of an unpleasant statement: I fear that you have not won
(intransitive) foll by for. to feel anxiety about something
an archaic word for frighten
Derived Forms
fearer, noun
fearless, adjective
fearlessly, adverb
fearlessness, noun
Word Origin
Old English fǣr; related to Old High German fāra, Old Norse fār hostility, Latin perīculum danger
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fear

Old English fær "calamity, sudden danger, peril," from Proto-Germanic *feraz "danger" (cf. Old Saxon far "ambush," Old Norse far "harm, distress, deception," Dutch gevaar, German Gefahr "danger"), from PIE root *per- "to try, risk, come over, go through" (perhaps connected with Greek peira "trial, attempt, experience," Latin periculum "trial, risk, danger").

Sense of "uneasiness caused by possible danger" developed late 12c. Old English words for "fear" as we now use it were ege, fyrhto; as a verb, ondrædan.


Old English færan "terrify, frighten," originally transitive (sense preserved in archaic I fear me and somewhat revived in digital gaming). Meaning "feel fear" is late 14c. Cognate with Old Saxon faron "to lie in wait," Middle Dutch vaeren "to fear," Old High German faren "to plot against," Old Norse færa "to taunt." See fear (n.). Related: Feared; fearing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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fear in Medicine

fear (fēr)
A feeling of agitation and dread caused by the presence or imminence of danger.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with fear
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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