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verb (used with object)
  1. to fear greatly; be in extreme apprehension of: to dread death.
  2. to be reluctant to do, meet, or experience: I dread going to big parties.
  3. Archaic. to hold in respectful awe.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to be in great fear.
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  1. terror or apprehension as to something in the future; great fear.
  2. a person or thing dreaded.
  3. dreads, Informal. dreadlocks.
  4. Informal. a person who wears dreadlocks.w
  5. Archaic. deep awe or reverence.
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  1. greatly feared; frightful; terrible.
  2. held in awe or reverential fear.
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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


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
5. See fear. 10. dire, dreadful, horrible.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for dread

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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)
  1. to anticipate with apprehension or terror
  2. to fear greatly
  3. archaic to be in awe of
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  1. great fear; horror
  2. an object of terror
  3. slang a Rastafarian
  4. archaic deep reverence
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  1. literary awesome; awe-inspiring
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Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper