- 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
Synonyms for nightmareSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Words for nightmarehorror, ordeal, fantasy, hallucination, dream, vision, fancy, trial, torment, incubus, tribulation, phantasm, illusion, succubus
Examples from the Web for nightmare
Contemporary Examples of 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
Historical Examples of nightmare
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 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.