[ feer-fuhl ]
/ ˈfɪər fəl /


causing or apt to cause fear; frightening: a fearful apparition.
feeling fear, dread, apprehension, or solicitude: fearful for his life; fearful lest he commit suicide.
full of awe or reverence: fearful of the Lord.
showing or caused by fear: fearful behavior.
extreme in size, intensity, or badness: a fearful head cold; fearful poverty.

Nearby words

  1. fe.,
  2. feal,
  3. fealty,
  4. fear,
  5. feared,
  6. fearfully,
  7. fearless,
  8. fearlessly,
  9. fearnought,
  10. fearsome

Origin of fearful

First recorded in 1300–50, fearful is from the Middle English word ferful. See fear, -ful

Related forms
Can be confusedfearful fearsome

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

Examples from the Web for fearful

British Dictionary definitions for fearful


/ (ˈfɪəfʊl) /


having fear; afraid
causing fear; frightening
informal very unpleasant or annoyinga fearful cold
Derived Formsfearfulness, noun

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 fearful



mid-14c., "causing fear," from fear + -ful. Meaning "full of fear, timid" (now less common) also is from mid-14c. As a mere emphatic, from 1630s. Related: Fearfully; fearfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper