Origin of dread

1125–75; Middle English dreden (v.), Old English drǣdan, aphetic variant of adrǣdan, ondrǣdan; cognate with Old High German intrātan to fear
Related formsdread·a·ble, adjectivedread·ness, nounpre·dread, noun, verb (used with object)un·dread·ed, adjectiveun·dread·ing, adjective

Synonyms for dread

5. See fear. 10. dire, dreadful, horrible.

Antonyms for dread

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dread

Contemporary Examples of dread

Historical Examples of dread

  • There is one stream which I dread my inability to stem—it is the tide of Popular Opinion.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • I dread to go down, said she, with so determined an answer: they will have no patience with me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • We do not dread, rather do we welcome, their progress in education and industry.

  • He passed his hand across his damp forehead, for he felt faint with dread.


    William J. Locke

  • I cannot remember the time when a dread of one kind or another was not in the air.

British Dictionary definitions for dread


verb (tr)

to anticipate with apprehension or terror
to fear greatly
archaic to be in awe of


great fear; horror
an object of terror
slang a Rastafarian
archaic deep reverence


literary awesome; awe-inspiring

Word Origin for dread

Old English ondrǣdan; related to Old Saxon antdrādan, Old High German intrātan
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 dread

late 12c., a shortening of Old English adrædan, contraction of ondrædan "counsel or advise against," also "to dread, fear, be afraid," from on- "against" + rædan "to advise" (see read (v.)). Cognate of Old Saxon andradon, Old High German intraten. Related: Dreaded; dreading. As a noun from 12c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper