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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


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

Related Words


Examples from the Web for scaring

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I was throwing a rock in the brush-pile in the chance of scaring out a rabbit.

  • Just think of his bungling off that old musket and scaring the lot!

    Hunting the Skipper

    George Manville Fenn

  • In that way they very often succeed in scaring our game away altogether.

  • "The boys are scaring them out of the wheat-field," said grandfather.

    When Life Was Young

    C. A. Stephens

  • "We were scaring away the foxes," said one of the donkeys, meekly.

    The Road to Oz

    L. Frank Baum

British Dictionary definitions for scaring


  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

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 scaring



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 scaring


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.