Definition of terror in English:


Syllabification: ter·ror
Pronunciation: /ˈterər


  • 1Extreme fear: people fled in terror [in singular]: a terror of darkness
    More example sentences
    • Fearing a curse, the townspeople fled in terror as soon as the weather broke.
    • I have lived those years both in dread of attending the party and in terror of missing it.
    • In fact, it's surprising how little you notice when you've got your eyes firmly shut and you're screaming in terror.
    extreme fear, dread, horror, fear and trembling, fright, alarm, panic
  • 1.1The use of terror to intimidate people, especially for political reasons; terrorism: weapons of terror
    More example sentences
    • Swindon magistrates heard they had waged a campaign of terror in the past six months, causing mayhem for shoppers and staff.
    • Several documents reflected the terror of the late 1930s and are in the form of denunciations.
    • You don't use weapons of terror on people you are intending to liberate.
  • 1.2 [in singular] A person or thing that causes extreme fear: his unyielding scowl became the terror of the Chicago mob
    More example sentences
    • At nineteen, Jeremiah McAuley was a thief and the terror of the New York waterfront.
    • Bumped into old East Londoner Peter Dyter - a second year who was the terror of Merriman new boys.
    • They were the terrors of every 7 - Eleven parking lot, the most feared guests at every house party.
  • 1.3 (the Terror) The period of the French Revolution between mid 1793 and July 1794 when the ruling Jacobin faction, dominated by Robespierre, ruthlessly executed anyone considered a threat to their regime. Also called reign of terror.
  • 2 (also holy terror) informal A person, especially a child, who causes trouble or annoyance: placid and obedient in their parents' presence, but holy terrors when left alone
    More example sentences
    • If you believe children should be seen and not heard, it may be best to avoid visiting during the school holidays - when tiny terrors abound.
    • Thankfully, my own little terrors decided to play fair on New Year's Day and let me have a bit of a lie-in until 8.45 am.
    • The three Mexican terrors know and respect the Belfast man, who lives and trains in the boxing crossroads of Las Vegas.
    rascal, rogue, rapscallion, devil, imp, monkey, mischief-maker, troublemaker, scalawag, scamp
    informal holy terror, horror, hellion, varmint
    archaic scapegrace


have (or hold) no terrors for someone

Not frighten or worry someone.
More example sentences
  • Of course I'm concerned about getting it right, but it holds no terrors for me because I have played Lear, and Lear is the most difficult of all.
  • A former high-class hurdler, Deep Water has always looked as though fences would hold no terrors for him.
  • The open pan of the valley had no terrors for us in daylight.


late Middle English: from Old French terrour, from Latin terror, from terrere 'frighten'.

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