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See more synonyms for scare on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object), scared, scar·ing.
  1. to fill, especially suddenly, with fear or terror; frighten; alarm.
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verb (used without object), scared, scar·ing.
  1. to become frightened: That horse scares easily.
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  1. a sudden fright or alarm, especially with little or no reason.
  2. a time or condition of alarm or worry: For three months there was a war scare.
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Verb Phrases
  1. scare up, Informal. to obtain with effort; find or gather: to scare up money.
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Origin of scare

1150–1200; (v.) Middle English skerren < Old Norse skirra to frighten, derivative of skjarr timid, shy; (noun) late Middle English skere, derivative of the v.
Related formsscar·er, nounscar·ing·ly, adverbun·scared, adjective

Synonyms for scare

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for scared

afraid, fearful, anxious, startled, panicky, panicked, petrified, shaken, terrified, aghast, panic-stricken, terror-stricken

Examples from the Web for scared

Contemporary Examples of scared

Historical Examples of scared

  • She could feel the shears against her hair, and she was so scared she swore like he told her.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • When he got on my trail he knew that I was just a scared kid who thought he'd killed a man.

  • And that minute he turned me from a scared kid into an outlaw—a killer.

  • A scared, round face peered out at Andrew from behind his mother.

  • I've been scared about Dirk ever since; and now he won't go to Poke's!

British Dictionary definitions for scared


  1. to fill or be filled with fear or alarm
  2. (tr; often foll by away or off) to drive (away) by frightening
  3. (tr) US and Canadian informal (foll by up)
    1. to produce (a meal) quickly from whatever is available
    2. to manage to find (something) quickly or with difficultybrewers need to scare up more sales
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  1. a sudden attack of fear or alarm
  2. a period of general fear or alarm
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  1. causing (needless) fear or alarma scare story
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Derived Formsscarer, noun

Word Origin for scare

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


past participle adjective from scare (v.). Scared stiff first recorded 1900; scared shitless is from 1936. Scaredy-cat "timid person" first attested 1906.

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1590s, alteration of Middle English skerren (c.1200), from Old Norse skirra "to frighten; to shrink from, shun; to prevent, avert," related to skjarr "timid, shy, afraid of," of unknown origin. In Scottish also skair, skar, and in dialectal English skeer, skear, which seems to preserve the older pronunciation. To scare up "procure, obtain" is first recorded 1846, American English, from notion of rousing game from cover. Related: Scared; scaring.

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"something that frightens; sudden panic, sudden terror inspired by a trifling cause, false alarm," 1520s, alteration of Middle English sker "fear, dread" (c.1400), from scare (v.). Scare tactic attested from 1948.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with scared


In addition to the idioms beginning with scare

  • scare out of one's wits
  • scare up

also see:

  • run scared
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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.