[ ter-er ]
/ ˈtɛr ər /


intense, sharp, overmastering fear: to be frantic with terror.
an instance or cause of intense fear or anxiety; quality of causing terror: to be a terror to evildoers.
any period of frightful violence or bloodshed likened to the Reign of Terror in France.
violence or threats of violence used for intimidation or coercion; terrorism.
Informal. a person or thing that is especially annoying or unpleasant.

Origin of terror

1325–75; < Latin, equivalent to terr(ēre) to frighten + -or -or1; replacing Middle English terrour < Anglo-French < Latin, as above


1 alarm, dismay, consternation. Terror, horror, panic, fright all imply extreme fear in the presence of danger or evil. Terror implies an intense fear that is somewhat prolonged and may refer to imagined or future dangers: frozen with terror. Horror implies a sense of shock at a danger that is also evil, and the danger may be to others rather than to oneself: to recoil in horror. Panic and fright both imply a sudden shock of fear. Fright is usually of short duration: a spasm of fright. Panic is uncontrolled and unreasoning fear, often groundless, that may be prolonged: The mob was in a panic.


ter·ror·ful, adjectiveter·ror·less, adjectivecoun·ter·ter·ror, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for terror

British Dictionary definitions for terror

/ (ˈtɛrə) /


great fear, panic, or dread
a person or thing that inspires great dread
informal a troublesome person or thing, esp a child

Derived forms of terror

terrorful, adjectiveterrorless, adjective

Word Origin for terror

C14: from Old French terreur, from Latin terror, from terrēre to frighten; related to Greek trein to run away in terror
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

Idioms and Phrases with terror


see holy terror.

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