- a terrifying dream in which the dreamer experiences feelings of helplessness, extreme anxiety, sorrow, etc.
- a condition, thought, or experience suggestive of a nightmare: the nightmare of his years in prison.
- (formerly) a monster or evil spirit believed to oppress persons during sleep.
Origin of nightmare
SynonymsSee more synonyms for nightmare on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for nightmare
You know, I feel the same way about that that I do about The Nightmare Before Christmas.Tim Burton Talks ‘Big Eyes,’ His Taste For the Macabre, and the ‘Beetlejuice’ Sequel
December 17, 2014
His lone stable was a girl from Newport News, Virginia, who had already escaped one nightmare.The Navy ‘Hero’ Who Pimped an HIV-Positive Teen
December 11, 2014
“We challenge Mr. Cosby to end this nightmare,” proclaimed Gloria Allred.Two New Bill Cosby Accusers Come Forward: ‘We Challenge Mr. Cosby to End This Nightmare’
December 3, 2014
Being buried alive is a nightmare that ranks alongside masked chainsaw-wielding madmen and enormous tarantulas.What It’s Like to Wake Up Dead
Dr. Anand Veeravagu, MD, Tej Azad
November 21, 2014
If Bush-Portman is the Republican nightmare ticket for Democrats, however, they may be spared.Hillary Adviser: Bush-Portman Ticket Could Doom Dems in 2016
November 21, 2014
The dread of French domination seems to have haunted him like a nightmare.Biographical Sketches
The dread of poverty is a nightmare; it wears one's life threadbare.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
What was it—madness, a nightmare, or a trap into which he had been decoyed with fiendish artfulness?The Secret Agent
For there is nothing so delightful as a nightmare—when you know it is a nightmare.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
So a nightmare of thought teemed through his brain as he rode.The Law-Breakers
- a terrifying or deeply distressing dream
- an event or condition resembling a terrifying dreamthe nightmare of shipwreck
- (as modifier)a nightmare drive
- a thing that is feared
- (formerly) an evil spirit supposed to harass or suffocate sleeping people
Word Origin and History for nightmare
late 13c., "an evil female spirit afflicting sleepers with a feeling of suffocation," compounded from night + mare (3) "goblin that causes nightmares, incubus." Meaning shifted mid-16c. from the incubus to the suffocating sensation it causes. Sense of "any bad dream" first recorded 1829; that of "very distressing experience" is from 1831. Cognate with Middle Dutch nachtmare, German Nachtmahr.
- A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress.
- An event or experience that is intensely distressing.