View synonyms for scare


[ skair ]

verb (used with object)

, scared, scar·ing.
  1. to fill, especially suddenly, with fear or terror; frighten; alarm:

    What scares me most about the disease is the residual effects on the lungs and heart.

    The ducks scared my sister by flying right toward her.

    Synonyms: intimidate, startle

verb (used without object)

, scared, scar·ing.
  1. to become frightened:

    That horse scares easily.


  1. a sudden fright or alarm, especially with little or no reason:

    I recently had a scare when my computer seemed to be malfunctioning, but it turned out to be nothing.

  2. a time or condition of alarm or worry:

    During the anthrax scare, people were leery of opening envelopes from addresses they didn't recognize.

verb phrase

  1. to frighten or alarm someone or something so much that they go away and stay away:

    Business leaders felt the fuel tax would scare away consumers fearing higher electricity bills and rising gasoline costs.

    The bee's sting isn't necessarily deadly, but it's painful enough to scare off predators.

  2. Informal. to obtain with effort; find or gather:

    We want to renovate the kitchen, but first we'll need to scare up some money.


/ skɛə /


  1. to fill or be filled with fear or alarm
  2. tr; often foll by away or off to drive (away) by frightening
  3. informal.
    tr foll by up
    1. to produce (a meal) quickly from whatever is available
    2. to manage to find (something) quickly or with difficulty

      brewers need to scare up more sales


  1. a sudden attack of fear or alarm
  2. a period of general fear or alarm


  1. causing (needless) fear or alarm

    a scare story

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Derived Forms

  • ˈscarer, noun

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Other Words From

  • scar·er noun
  • scar·ing·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of scare1

First recorded in 1150–1200; (for the verb) Middle English skerren, from Old Norse skirra “to frighten,” derivative of skjarr “timid, shy”; (for the noun) late Middle English skere, derivative of the verb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of scare1

C12: from Old Norse skirra; related to Norwegian skjerra, Swedish dialect skjarra

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Idioms and Phrases

  • run scared

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Synonym Study

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Example Sentences

In terms of horror, “The Medium” has some good scares but they are sandwiched between boring stretches where I mostly just walked through long hallways, or climbed obstacles, feeling lost.

She has been able to keep the coronavirus at bay, but two weeks ago, she had a scare that forced her to close and get everyone tested after a child became ill.

An artist and critic argues attention is a scare resource and should be directed where it can provide the most value.

The real flagship SoC is the Snapdragon 888, so Qualcomm's use of "flagship" here definitely belongs in scare quotes.

The health scare comes amid a contentious divorce with his wife, Nicole Young, who is reportedly seeking $2 million a month in temporary spousal support and another $5 million in attorney fees.

“Cultures” Versus “White Girls” As you can probably sense from my scare quotes, you can never be too careful these days.

Mrs. Deshales ordered an ambulance, which managed to scare off Wahlberg and his pals.

As we have seen, it is not just the fact that they scare people.

Keep the scare quotes around gay “marriage,” or at least put an asterisk after it.

An HIV scare, Rand Paul talking points, and a (maybe) proposition.

The submarine scare is full on; the beastly things have frightened us more than all the Turks and all their German guns.

Then the other girls followed; but, just as Nelly got on, Robert Wood shook the plank, and tried to scare her.

London was growing quiet, so that the shrieks of the late newsboys with the evening scare could be distinctly heard there.

At night the train is increased by the addition of a torch-bearer, to scare off the wild beasts by the glare of his torch.

I'm half afraid to spend another night in the sleeper after the scare we got last night.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.