verb (used with object), scared, scar·ing.

  1. to fill, especially suddenly, with fear or terror; frighten; alarm.

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.
  2. a time or condition of alarm or worry: For three months there was a war scare.

Verb Phrases

  1. scare up, Informal. to obtain with effort; find or gather: to scare up money.


  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


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


  1. causing (needless) fear or alarma scare story

v.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. n.“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. In addition to the idioms beginning with scare

  • scare out of one’s wits
  • scare up
  • also see:

  • run scared
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