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  1. feeling fear; filled with apprehension: afraid to go.
  2. feeling regret, unhappiness, or the like: I'm afraid we can't go on Monday.
  3. feeling reluctance, unwillingness, distaste, or the like: He seemed afraid to show his own children a little kindness.

Origin of afraid

variant spelling of affrayed, past participle of affray to disturb, frighten
Related formshalf-a·fraid, adjectiveun·a·fraid, adjective

Synonyms for afraid

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1. scared, fearful, disquieted, apprehensive, timid, timorous.

Synonym study

1. Afraid, alarmed, frightened, terrified all indicate a state of fear. Afraid implies inner apprehensive disquiet: afraid of the dark. Alarmed implies that the feelings are aroused through realization of some imminent or unexpected danger to oneself or others: alarmed by (or about ) someone's illness. Frightened means shocked with sudden, but usually short-lived, fear, especially that arising from apprehension of physical harm: frightened by an accident. Terrified suggests the emotional reaction when one is struck with a violent, overwhelming fear: terrified by an earthquake.

Antonyms for afraid Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for afraid

Contemporary Examples of afraid

Historical Examples of afraid

  • Philothea has glided from the apartment, as if afraid to remain in my presence.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • "I am afraid I should make a poor hand at it," said Mrs. Rushton, smiling.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • That he is afraid to trust banks, and hides his money in the earth.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • “I am afraid he is past ransom,” said the youth, shaking his head.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • I'm afraid of myself, even in spite of our affairs being so bad.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for afraid


adjective (postpositive)
  1. (often foll by of) feeling fear or apprehension; frightenedhe was afraid of cats
  2. reluctant (to do something), as through fear or timidityhe was afraid to let himself go
  3. (often foll by that; used to lessen the effect of an unpleasant statement) regretfulI'm afraid that I shall have to tell you to go

Word Origin for afraid

C14: affraied, past participle of affray (to frighten)
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 afraid

early 14c., originally past participle of afray "frighten," from Anglo-French afrayer, from Old French esfreer (see affray (n.)). A rare case of an English adjective that never stands before a noun. Because it was used in A.V. Bible, it acquired independent standing and thrived while affray faded, chasing out the once more common afeared. Sense in I'm afraid "I regret to say, I suspect" (without implication of fear) is first recorded 1590s.

Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone [Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes," 1820]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper