Share this entry

neophobia Syllabification: ne·o·pho·bi·a
Pronunciation: /ˌnēōˈfōbēə/

Definition of neophobia in English:


Extreme or irrational fear or dislike of anything new, novel, or unfamiliar.
Example sentences
  • Shyness - the human equivalent of neophobia - can be detected in infants as young as 14 months.
  • It has also been shown that birds may reject novel prey on the basis of unfamiliarity alone or neophobia.
  • To measure neophobia, she filled a dish with peanuts and apples, a treat that she calls ‘the Amazon equivalent of chocolate,’ then dangled an unfamiliar object above it and timed a bird's delay in approaching.



Example sentences
  • The researchers found that the neophobic rats produced high levels of stress hormones, called glucocorticoids - typically involved in the fight-or-flight stress response - when faced with strange situations.
  • If the stress response could be suppressed then the more neophobic personalities could probably go through life feeling fear or aversion to new experiences with little resulting damage to their bodies.
  • Generally, one would predict that behaviourally flexible species would be more willing to explore particular objects or situations that neophobic species might avoid and more willing to consume potential food resources in general.

Definition of neophobia in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwɑːˈfəː
a hairdresser