Definition of scare in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /skɛː/


[with object]
1Cause great fear or nervousness in; frighten: the rapid questions were designed to scare her into blurting out the truth
More example sentences
  • A brave businesswoman who is scared stiff of sharks is set to take the charity plunge into a tank full of the fearsome fish.
  • Some are scared stiff of losing their work, others are pressured by family members not to complain.
  • But the upper class is scared stiff of his rise, and plots to foil his attempts through fraud.
frighten, make afraid, make fearful, make nervous, panic, throw into a panic;
terrify, petrify, scare/frighten to death, scare/frighten someone out of their wits, scare stiff, scare witless, scare/frighten the living daylights out of, scare/frighten the life out of, scare the hell out of, strike terror into, fill with fear, put the fear of God into, make someone jump (out of their skin), make someone's hair stand on end, give someone goose pimples, make someone's blood run cold, chill someone's blood, send into a cold sweat, make someone shake in their shoes;
startle, alarm, give someone a fright, give someone a turn;
shock, appal, horrify;
intimidate, daunt, unnerve
informal give someone the heebie-jeebies, scare the pants off, scarify, make someone's hair curl
British informal throw into a blue funk, put the wind up
Irish informal scare the bejesus out of
North American informal spook
vulgar slang scare shitless, scare the shit out of
archaic fright, affright
1.1 [with object and adverbial] Drive or keep (someone) away by frightening them: the ugly scenes scared the holiday crowds away
More example sentences
  • I'd wanted it to scare him off, send him fleeing back to wherever he'd come from.
  • I think their behaviour has been scaring people away from the lagoon.
  • Party sources believe the campaign is aimed at scaring people away from transferring votes to the party and harming their chances of success just weeks before the election.
1.2 [no object] Become scared: I don’t think I scare easily
More example sentences
  • But these are committed professionals who don't scare easily.
  • At 74, Browning has lived through more presidential campaigns than she cares to remember and she claims not to scare easily.
  • Mr Mooring, who served with the Eighth Army and saw action at El-Alamein, does not scare easily.


1A sudden attack of fright: gosh, that gave me a scare!
More example sentences
  • Megan immediately halted and leaned on the pole tip for support, gulping in air after the sudden scare.
  • Ivory's head snapped up to look him straight in the eyes, her face now a pale sheet of white from the sudden scare.
  • Which reminds me to mention a word of caution when managing cows around calving time, there is nothing like a good scare to make one realise the dangers of attack.
fright, shock, start, turn, jump
informal the heebie-jeebies
1.1 [usually with modifier] A situation characterized by a sudden and typically widespread sense of alarm or anxiety about something: the event was postponed earlier this year due to the foot-and-mouth scare recent food scares have made the public rightly sensitive to new, apparently untested technologies Aimee has been given the all-clear after a breast cancer scare
More example sentences
  • Commuters travelling on London Underground services last night were facing further disruption in the wake of the terror attacks and security scares.
  • The lake, which was closed due to bacteria scares in January 2002, faces a new crisis as low water levels threaten to close the recreational spot in the middle of the skiing season.
  • She was upset at having been implicated in causing a food scare and described the report as "absolute nonsense".

Phrasal verbs

scare something up

informal, chiefly North American Manage to find or obtain something: for a price, the box office can usually scare up a pair of tickets
More example sentences
  • My guess is it might take time to scare something up though, since a lot of these ladies are the bubble bath and satin and roses and hot air balloon ride types - big dreamers with dashed hopes, I guess.
  • And each was a special customer, and he was determined to serve their needs and he would see if he couldn't scare something up.



Example sentences
  • When you have half a dozen or so, drill a hole close to the edge in each disk, thread them with tarred-twine and tie them to a bamboo cane - they make excellent bird scarers.
  • New moves will be made this weekend by divers armed with sonar scarers used on fish farms to return him to the wild.
  • I thought I disguised my disappointment pretty well as I invited him to kneel down and take a look but he had rather gone off the boil by then and seemed more interested in throwing snowballs at the cat scarer.


Middle English: from Old Norse skirra 'frighten', from skjarr 'timid'.

Words that rhyme with scare

affair, affaire, air, Altair, Althusser, Anvers, Apollinaire, Astaire, aware, Ayer, Ayr, bare, bear, bêche-de-mer, beware, billionaire, Blair, blare, Bonaire, cafetière, care, chair, chargé d'affaires, chemin de fer, Cher, Clair, Claire, Clare, commissionaire, compare, concessionaire, cordon sanitaire, couvert, Daguerre, dare, debonair, declare, derrière, despair, doctrinaire, éclair, e'er, elsewhere, ensnare, ere, extraordinaire, Eyre, fair, fare, fayre, Finisterre, flair, flare, Folies-Bergère, forbear, forswear, foursquare, glair, glare, hair, hare, heir, Herr, impair, jardinière, Khmer, Kildare, La Bruyère, lair, laissez-faire, legionnaire, luminaire, mal de mer, mare, mayor, meunière, mid-air, millionaire, misère, Mon-Khmer, multimillionaire, ne'er, Niger, nom de guerre, outstare, outwear, pair, pare, parterre, pear, père, pied-à-terre, Pierre, plein-air, prayer, questionnaire, rare, ready-to-wear, rivière, Rosslare, Santander, savoir faire, secretaire, share, snare, solitaire, Soufrière, spare, square, stair, stare, surface-to-air, swear, Tailleferre, tare, tear, their, there, they're, vin ordinaire, Voltaire, ware, wear, Weston-super-Mare, where, yeah

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: scare

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.