- a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
- a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
- concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.
- reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
- something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
- anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur: Having grown up during the Great Depression, he had a constant fear of running out of money.
- to regard with fear; be afraid of.
- to have reverential awe of.
- to consider or anticipate (something unpleasant) with a feeling of dread or alarm: It's about to snow again, I fear.
- Archaic. to experience fear in (oneself): I fear me he will ne'er forgive us.
- to have fear; be afraid: I'll go with you, so do not fear!
- to feel apprehensive or uneasy (usually followed by for): In this time of economic instability, I fear for my children's future.
- for fear of/that, in order to prevent or avoid the risk of: She is afraid to say anything for fear of the consequences.
- put the fear of God in/into, to cause to be greatly afraid.
Origin of fear
— Fear and Trembling: A philosophical exploration of faith and ethics by Sören Kierkegaard. Published in 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio.
— Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream: A roman à clef by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. First printed in 1971 as a two-part series in Rolling Stone magazine, and as a novel in 1972.
— Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A film adaptation of the Hunter S. Thompson book, directed by Terry Gilliam. Released in 1998.
— The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things: 1999 book by sociologist Barry Glassner, examining why Americans' fears are misplaced and exaggerated. Revised and updated in 2010.
— Fear Factor: An American reality game show (2001–2006) in which contestants had to complete a series of dangerous, disgusting, or otherwise fear-inducing stunts.
—No FEAR Act: The Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (Public Law 107–174). The act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002, increases Federal agency accountability for acts of discrimination or reprisal against employees.
- "Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for demagogic politicians to mobilize the public on behalf of the policies they want to pursue."-Zbigniew Brzezinski Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’: How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America The Washington Post (March 25, 2007)
- "What we, following the Scriptures, call the fear of God, is not terror or dread, but an awe that holds God in reverence."-Martin Luther by Wilhelm Herrmann, transl. by J. Sandys Stanyon, revised by R. W. Stewart The communion of the Christian with God: Described on the basis of Luther's statements (1906)
- "I have a huge need for financial security; the immigrant in me has a fear of ending up homeless and in the gutter."-Ruth Behar Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's Story (2003)
- "To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead."-Bertrand Russell Marriage and Morals (1929)
- "I fear we are all in your black books."-Anthony Trollope The Three Clerks (1858)
- "[T]here may be dark abysses before which intelligence must be silent, for fear of going mad."-George Santayana compiled by Martin A. Coleman The Essential Santayana: Selected Writings (2009)
- a feeling of distress, apprehension, or alarm caused by impending danger, pain, etc
- a cause of this feeling
- awe; reverencefear of God
- concern; anxiety
- possibility; chancethere is no fear of that happening
- for fear of, for fear that or for fear lest to forestall or avoid
- no fear certainly not
- put the fear of God into to frighten
- to be afraid (to do something) or of (a person or thing); dread
- (tr) to revere; respect
- (tr; takes a clause as object) to be sorry: used to lessen the effect of an unpleasant statementI fear that you have not won
- (intr foll by for) to feel anxiety about something
- an archaic word for frighten
Word Origin for fear
Old English fær "calamity, sudden danger, peril," from Proto-Germanic *feraz "danger" (cf. Old Saxon far "ambush," Old Norse far "harm, distress, deception," Dutch gevaar, German Gefahr "danger"), from PIE root *per- "to try, risk, come over, go through" (perhaps connected with Greek peira "trial, attempt, experience," Latin periculum "trial, risk, danger").
Sense of "uneasiness caused by possible danger" developed late 12c. Old English words for "fear" as we now use it were ege, fyrhto; as a verb, ondrædan.
Old English færan "terrify, frighten," originally transitive (sense preserved in archaic I fear me and somewhat revived in digital gaming). Meaning "feel fear" is late 14c. Cognate with Old Saxon faron "to lie in wait," Middle Dutch vaeren "to fear," Old High German faren "to plot against," Old Norse færa "to taunt." See fear (n.). Related: Feared; fearing.
- A feeling of agitation and dread caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
put the fear of God into
Terrify someone, as in The school counselor put the fear of God into the girls when she talked about AIDS. This phrase alludes to a time when most people had a mingled feeling of dread and reverence toward the deity. [Late 1800s]
see fools rush in where angels fear to tread; for fear of; never fear; put the fear of god in.