[ feer-fuhl ]
See synonyms for: fearfulfearfullyfearfulness on Thesaurus.com

  1. causing or apt to cause fear; frightening: a fearful apparition.

  2. feeling fear, dread, apprehension, or solicitude: fearful for his life.

  1. full of awe or reverence: fearful of the Lord.

  2. showing or caused by fear: fearful behavior exhibited by dogs in the animal shelter.

  3. extreme in size, intensity, or badness: a fearful head cold; fearful poverty.

Origin of fearful

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English ferful(l); see origin at fear, -ful

Other words for fearful

Other words from fearful

  • fear·ful·ly, adverb
  • fear·ful·ness, noun
  • un·fear·ful, adjective

Words that may be confused with fearful

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use fearful in a sentence

  • She tried to laugh at her womanly fearfulness, and had almost to suppress a scream in doing so.

    Rhoda Fleming, Complete | George Meredith
  • Its tendency was to nervous discontent and suspicious fearfulness of approaching, vaguely formulated, evils.

    Robin | Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • This feeling of distrust and fearfulness will soon pass away.

  • Think of the fearfulness of living in a country called the land of dollars.

    Atlantis | Gerhart Hauptmann
  • There is a fearfulness in the beauty of Girlhood which mingles anxiety in the cup of admiration.

British Dictionary definitions for fearful


/ (ˈfɪəfʊl) /

  1. having fear; afraid

  2. causing fear; frightening

  1. informal very unpleasant or annoying: a fearful cold

Derived forms of fearful

  • fearfulness, 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