Definition of nightmare in English:


Line breaks: night|mare
Pronunciation: /ˈnʌɪtmɛː


1A frightening or unpleasant dream: I had nightmares after watching the horror movie
More example sentences
  • I can hardly believe I slept so well, no dreams, nightmares or visions to contemplate this morning.
  • Cody was one of those that dreams nightmares and her nightmare was beginning to unfold right before her eyes.
  • He suggests this, for example, in the many places where he speaks of waking up out of our dreams or nightmares.
2A very unpleasant or frightening experience or prospect: the nightmare of racial hatred developing thunderclouds are a balloonist’s worst nightmare
More example sentences
  • Before I could do anything else, my worst nightmare happened, right before my eyes.
  • But he has avoided his own worst nightmare, which is that of missing life entirely.
  • In denying him his right to be buried in Jerusalem, the Israelis have created their worst nightmare.
2.1A person or situation that is very difficult to deal with: buying wine can be a nightmare if you don’t know enough about it
More example sentences
  • We take a simple consumption tax and turn it into a complicated nightmare.
  • Though I did primary school teaching I forgot what a nightmare these tests are for parents.
  • That situation could have been a nightmare, but his mum views us both as surrogate daughters and is very easy to get along with.


Middle English (denoting a female evil spirit thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers): from night + Old English mære 'incubus'.

Definition of nightmare in: