- 1An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm: I cowered in fear as bullets whizzed past fear of unemployment is paralysing the economy [count noun]: he is prey to irrational fearsMore example sentences
terror, fright, fearfulness, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, consternation, dismay, distress; anxiety, worry, angst, unease, uneasiness, apprehension, apprehensiveness, nervousness, nerves, timidity, disquiet, disquietude, discomposure, unrest, perturbation, foreboding, misgiving, doubt, suspicion• informal the creeps, the willies, the heebie-jeebies, the shakes, the collywobbles, jitteriness, twitchiness, butterflies (in the stomach)British • informal funk, blue funk, the (screaming) abdabsAustralian • rhyming slang the Joe BlakesNorth American • archaic worriment• rare inquietudephobia, aversion, antipathy, dread, bugbear, bogey, nightmare, horror, terror; anxiety, neurosis, complex, mania; abnormal fear, irrational fear, obsessive fear; French bête noire• informal hang-up
- It is important to make oneself accustomed to pain and danger without fear.
- Accordingly, there was no arguable case that he had a well-founded fear of persecution.
- Accordingly, I find that the applicants do not have a well-founded fear of persecution.
- 1.1 [count noun] (fear for) A feeling of anxiety concerning the outcome of something or the safety of someone: police launched a hunt for the family amid fears for their safetyMore example sentences
- The newspapers have been responsibly restrained in their editorials which reflect the growing fears and safety concerns of the citizenry.
- The union insists the dispute concerns health and safety fears.
- He does, however, see an opportunity for brands to provide consumers with comfort and relief from the anxieties caused by safety fears.
- 1.2The likelihood of something unwelcome happening: she observed the other guests without fear of attracting attentionMore example sentences
- Is it right for society to live in fear and risk the chance of another murder?
- I have a terrible fear of loss, I have a terrible fear of the unexpected happening.
- All the time I'm either in fear of what will happen, or I think I ought to be afraid, but this morning I felt strong and resolute.
- 1.3 • archaic A mixed feeling of dread and reverence: the love and fear of GodMore example sentences
- The Table is a place of feasting and refreshment, but also a place of mystery tinged with reverent fear.
- At the centre of it all is a shallow self-centred consumerism, coupled with a debilitating absence of fear and reverence for God.
verb[with object] Back to top
- 1Be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful: I hated him but didn’t fear him any more [with clause]: farmers fear that they will lose businessMore example sentences
be afraid of, be fearful of, be scared of, be apprehensive of, dread, live in fear of, go in terror of, be terrified of, be terrified by, cower before, tremble before, cringe from, shrink from, flinch from; be anxious about, worry about, panic about, feel consternation about, have forebodings about, feel apprehensive aboutBritish • informal be in a blue funk aboutshudder at, take fright at
- Economists fear unemployment is likely to persist for longer than in previous recessions.
- Far more people fear snakes than are likely to find themselves in the presence of their slippery scales.
- When the person it was addressed to opened it, he feared it was dangerous and police were called in.
- 1.1 [no object] (fear for) Feel anxiety on behalf of: I fear for the city with this madman let loose in itMore example sentences
- Before dawn breaks, Lot's family and the travellers flee the city, fearing for their lives.
- Republicans across the city had feared for the future of the administration.
- His resignation will be a tragedy for the city and I fear for some of his patients.
- 1.2 [with infinitive] Avoid doing something because one is afraid: she eventually feared to go out at allMore example sentences
be too afraid, be too scared, be too apprehensive, hesitate; dare not• informal have cold feet about
- Only a superficial soul fears to fraternize with itself.
- Not fearing to reunite old enemies alongside old friends, they are organising a school reunion for the class of 1978.
- Yet as long as they were killing us in small batches, we responded with passivity, fearing to stir up more trouble.
- 1.4 • archaic Regard (God) with reverence and awe: he urged his listeners to fear God
for fear of (or that)
- To avoid the risk of (or that): no one dared refuse the order for fear of losing their jobMore example sentences
- This is exactly the sort of compulsive behaviour I have to avoid for fear of going mad.
- He speculated that the tree was ill and the koalas knew of it, avoiding the leaves for fear of food poisoning.
- Players were afraid to take defensive risks for fear that no one would help out, and often no one would.
- Used to reassure someone: we shall meet again, never fearMore example sentences
- Well, never fear, you shall meet all of those new things one at a time, and in no time at all they won't be new any more, they shall seem like old friends.
- But never fear, I am required as Admissions Officer to check in regularly while on holiday, to sort out new students applying and those that panic when the Embassy won't give them a study visa.
- If you missed it - as you probably did - never fear.
put the fear of God in (or into) someone
- Make someone very frightened: she hoped the threat would put the fear of God in himMore example sentences
- They must observe human rights at all times as well as protect people rather than putting the fear of God into them.
- Apart from a few acrobatic monkeys putting the fear of God into me, and sweltering soaking heat, it was a pleasant trek.
- We want people to take sensitive precautions - we don't want to put the fear of God into them.
without fear or favour
- Impartially: take all your decisions without fear or favourMore example sentences
- Judges are supposed to impartially interpret the law without fear or favour.
- What hidden motivations are there in an oath that states that our judges will pledge themselves to act fairly and impartially, without fear or favour, affection, or ill will?
- Anyone suspected of criminal behaviour, regardless of who they are, should be subject to investigation, and, if the competent authority deems necessary, should be tried without fear or favour.
Old English fǣr 'calamity, danger', fǣran 'frighten', also 'revere', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch gevaar and German Gefahr 'danger'.