Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[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) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
British Dictionary definitions for put the fear of god into


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for put the fear of god into



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
Cite This Source
put the fear of god into 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.
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for put the fear of god into

put the fear of God into

verb phrase

To terrify (1905+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with put the fear of god into

put the fear of God into

Terrify someone, as in The school counselor put the fear of God into the girls when she talked about AIDS. This phrase alludes to a time when most people had a mingled feeling of dread and reverence toward the deity. [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for put the fear of god into

Difficulty index for fear

All English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for put

Scrabble Words With Friends