1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
  2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
  3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
  4. reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
  5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
  6. 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.

verb (used with object)

  1. to regard with fear; be afraid of.
  2. to have reverential awe of.
  3. to consider or anticipate (something unpleasant) with a feeling of dread or alarm: It’s about to snow again, I fear.
  4. Archaic. to experience fear in (oneself): I fear me he will ne’er forgive us.

verb (used without object)

  1. to have fear; be afraid: I’ll go with you, so do not fear!
  2. to feel apprehensive or uneasy (usually followed by for): In this time of economic instability, I fear for my children’s future.

  1. for fear of/that, in order to prevent or avoid the risk of: She is afraid to say anything for fear of the consequences.
  2. put the fear of God in/into, to cause to be greatly afraid.


  1. a river in SE North Carolina. 202 miles (325 km) long.
  2. Cape, a cape at its mouth.


  1. a feeling of distress, apprehension, or alarm caused by impending danger, pain, etc
  2. a cause of this feeling
  3. awe; reverencefear of God
  4. concern; anxiety
  5. possibility; chancethere is no fear of that happening
  6. for fear of, for fear that or for fear lest to forestall or avoid
  7. no fear certainly not
  8. put the fear of God into to frighten


  1. to be afraid (to do something) or of (a person or thing); dread
  2. (tr) to revere; respect
  3. (tr; takes a clause as object) to be sorry: used to lessen the effect of an unpleasant statementI fear that you have not won
  4. (intr foll by for) to feel anxiety about something
  5. an archaic word for frighten

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.


  1. A feeling of agitation and dread caused by the presence or imminence of danger.

see fools rush in where angels fear to tread; for fear of; never fear; put the fear of god in.

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