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fearful

[feer-fuh l]
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adjective
  1. causing or apt to cause fear; frightening: a fearful apparition.
  2. feeling fear, dread, apprehension, or solicitude: fearful for his life; fearful lest he commit suicide.
  3. full of awe or reverence: fearful of the Lord.
  4. showing or caused by fear: fearful behavior.
  5. extreme in size, intensity, or badness: a fearful head cold; fearful poverty.

Origin of fearful

First recorded in 1300–50, fearful is from the Middle English word ferful. See fear, -ful
Related formsfear·ful·ly, adverbfear·ful·ness, nouno·ver·fear·ful, adjectiveo·ver·fear·ful·ly, adverbo·ver·fear·ful·ness, nounpre·fear·ful, adjectivepre·fear·ful·ly, adverbun·fear·ful, adjectiveun·fear·ful·ly, adverbun·fear·ful·ness, noun
Can be confusedfearful fearsome

Synonyms

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2. afraid, timid, timorous, apprehensive, uneasy, distrustful; solicitous, anxious, concerned, worried.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fearful

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Has this fearful pestilence no power to restrain the appetites and passions of the people?

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • Though the cove was more quiet than the ocean, yet it was fearful enough, even there.

    Malbone

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • That fearful alley was no place for human beings; certainly not for these two.

  • The sympathy of it stirred the listener to fearful memories.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Your da's death was a fearful blow to her, and she never overed it.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine


British Dictionary definitions for fearful

fearful

adjective
  1. having fear; afraid
  2. causing fear; frightening
  3. informal very unpleasant or annoyinga fearful cold
Derived Formsfearfulness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for fearful

adj.

mid-14c., "causing fear," from fear + -ful. Meaning "full of fear, timid" (now less common) also is from mid-14c. As a mere emphatic, from 1630s. Related: Fearfully; fearfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper