fearful

[feer-fuhl]

adjective

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.

Origin of fearful

First recorded in 1300–50, fearful is from the Middle English word ferful. See fear, -ful
Related formsfear·ful·ly, adverbfear·ful·ness, nouno·ver·fear·ful, adjectiveo·ver·fear·ful·ly, adverbo·ver·fear·ful·ness, nounpre·fear·ful, adjectivepre·fear·ful·ly, adverbun·fear·ful, adjectiveun·fear·ful·ly, adverbun·fear·ful·ness, noun
Can be confusedfearful fearsome

Synonyms for fearful

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


Examples from the Web for fearfulness

Historical Examples of fearfulness

  • You, I know, lay this to his fearfulness of disobliging or offending.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The fearfulness of Gibson's perfidy was almost incomprehensible.

    Spring Street

    James H. Richardson

  • Those who have not felt it know not the fearfulness of waiting for an Indian attack.

    The Crossing

    Winston Churchill

  • The fearfulness of the consequences shows how false the supposed principle must be.

    Sermons

    Clement Bailhache

  • How shall I describe to you this pressure, its fearfulness and sublimity!


British Dictionary definitions for fearfulness

fearful

adjective

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 fearfulness

fearful

adj.

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