an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, situation, or person that manifests in physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath, and that motivates avoidance behavior.
an aversion toward, dislike of, or disrespect for a thing, idea, person, or group.
- Compare specific phobia.
Other definitions for -phobia (2 of 2)
a combining form meaning “fear,” occurring in loanwords from Greek (hydrophobia); on this model, used in the names of anxiety disorders that have the general sense “dread of, aversion toward” that specified by the initial element (agoraphobia); on the same model, used in words that name hostility toward a thing or idea, or a specific group, with the sense “antipathy toward or dislike of, disrespect or disdain for” the object or people specified by the initial element (technophobia; xenophobia).
There is another category of words that use the combining form -phobia to simply make antonyms of words that use the combining form -philia to describe affinity, love, or attraction, as Anglophobia versus Anglophilia. These -phobia words are not associated with a physical fear response. Instead, they indicate an aversion or distaste: ergophobia, sitophobia.
In many cases, these words indicate intolerance toward a group of people as defined by nationality, ancestry, sexual identity or orientation, creed, or race: homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia. Though there is an element of fear when interacting with the unknown or the Other, words in this category are not primarily about anxiety; rather, they are commonly associated with hostility. The use of -phobia words to describe negative attitudes toward groups of people is therefore frequently criticized. Advocates and activists representing these groups recommend using the prefix anti- instead, in words such as antigay, antitrans, anti-Islam.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use phobia in a sentence
The idea of “research” settings in our popular culture tap into this phobia.
Contemporary society has gifted us with a phobia potentially as strong as acrophobia or the fear of flying: smartphone anxiety.Do You Suffer From Smartphone Anxiety? (And if So, What the Hell’s Your Problem?) | Melissa Fares | April 30, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The guy who took the cake suffered from a Vagina Dentata phobia, with attendant castration anxiety.
So there you have it: another outbreak fueled by irrational vaccine phobia.A Maddening Case of the Measles in Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn | Kent Sepkowitz | June 13, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
He discusses his strange phobia, what makes him cry, and what he and Gore Vidal have in common.Lev Grossman’s Weird Phobia: ‘How I Write’ Interview | Noah Charney | June 8, 2012 | THE DAILY BEAST
Maybe he had forced himself to go with her and the power of his lifelong phobia had wiped it from his memory.The Memory of Mars | Raymond F. Jones
No matter how much overlay you pile on top of such a phobia to suppress it, it will continue to haunt you.The Memory of Mars | Raymond F. Jones
Unless the fear of sleeplessness becomes a full grown phobia, no anxiety need be felt.Think | Col. Wm. C. Hunter
Nervous breakdowns are increasing as a result of the American worry phobia.Evening Round Up | William Crosbie Hunter
Anton Varcek won't be interested, one way or another; he has what amounts to a pathological phobia about firearms of any sort.Murder in the Gunroom | Henry Beam Piper
British Dictionary definitions for phobia (1 of 2)
psychiatry an abnormal intense and irrational fear of a given situation, organism, or object
British Dictionary definitions for -phobia (2 of 2)
indicating an extreme abnormal fear of or aversion to: acrophobia; claustrophobia
- -phobic, adj combining form
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
Cultural definitions for phobia
An extreme and often unreasonable fear of some object, concept, situation, or person.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.