What does fear mean?

Definitions for fear

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word fear.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. fear, fearfulness, frightnoun

    an emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger (usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight)

  2. concern, care, fearnoun

    an anxious feeling

    "care had aged him"; "they hushed it up out of fear of public reaction"

  3. fear, reverence, awe, venerationverb

    a feeling of profound respect for someone or something

    "the fear of God"; "the Chinese reverence for the dead"; "the French treat food with gentle reverence"; "his respect for the law bordered on veneration"

  4. fearverb

    be afraid or feel anxious or apprehensive about a possible or probable situation or event

    "I fear she might get aggressive"

  5. fear, dreadverb

    be afraid or scared of; be frightened of

    "I fear the winters in Moscow"; "We should not fear the Communists!"

  6. fearverb

    be sorry; used to introduce an unpleasant statement

    "I fear I won't make it to your wedding party"

  7. fearverb

    be uneasy or apprehensive about

    "I fear the results of the final exams"

  8. reverence, fear, revere, venerateverb

    regard with feelings of respect and reverence; consider hallowed or exalted or be in awe of

    "Fear God as your father"; "We venerate genius"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. FEARnoun

    Etymology: fearan, Sax. to fear; vaer, Dut. feakle, Erse.

    Fear is an uneasiness of the mind, upon the thought of future evil likely to befal us. John Locke.

    Trembling fear still to and fro did fly,
    And found no place where safe she shrowd him might. F. Q.

    For fear was upon them, because of the people of those countries. Ezra iii. 3.

    What then remains? Are we depriv’d of will?
    Must we not wish, for fear of wishing ill? John Dryden, Juv.

    Fear, in general, is that passion of our nature whereby we are excited to provide for our security upon the approach of evil. John Rogers, Sermon 1.

    And the fear of you, and the dread of you, shall be upon every beast. Gen. ix. 2.

    The greatest and principal fear was for the holy temple. 2 Mac. xv. 18.

    Antony, stay not by his side:
    Thy demon, that’s the spirit that keeps thee, is
    Noble, courageous, high, unmatchable,
    Where Cæsar’s is not; but near him, thy angel
    Becomes a fear, as being o’erpower’d. William Shakespeare, Ant. and Cleop.

    Except the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac had been with me. Gen. xxxi. 42.

    He who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit, and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare. Is. xxiv. 18.

  2. Fearnoun

    A companion. Obsolete.

    Etymology: fearan, Sax. to fear; vaer, Dut. feakle, Erse.

    But fair Charissa to a lovely fear
    Was linked, and by him had many pledges dear. Fairy Qu.

  3. To Fearverb

    Etymology: fearan, Saxon.

    Now, for my life, Hortensio fears his widow.
    —— Then never trust me if I be afraid.
    —— You are very sensible, yet you miss my sense;
    I mean Hortensio is afraid of you. William Shakespeare, Tam. of the Shrew.

    To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength,
    Gives, in your weakness, strength unto your foe. William Shakespeare, R. II.

    There shall rise up a kingdom, and it shall be feared above all the kingdoms before it. 2 Esdr. xii. 13.

    When I view the beauties of thy face,
    I fear not death, nor dangers, nor disgrace. Dryden.

    The inhabitants, being feared with the Spaniards landing and burning, fled from their dwellings. Carew.

    If he be taken, he shall never more
    Be fear’d of doing harm: make your own purpose
    How in my strength you please. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    We must not make a scarecrow of the law,
    Setting it up to fear the birds of prey. William Shakespeare, Meas. for Meas.

    Some, sitting on the hatches, would seem there,
    With hideous gazing, to fear away fear. John Donne.

  4. To Fearverb

    Well you may fear too far.
    —— Safer than trust too far:
    Let me still take away the harms I fear,
    Not fear still to be harm’d. William Shakespeare, King Lear.

    If any such be here, if any fear
    Less for his person than an ill report;
    If any think brave death outweighs bad life. William Shakespeare, Coriolan.

    Then let the greedy merchant fear
    For his ill-gotten gain;
    And pray to gods that will not hear,
    While the debating winds and billows bear
    His wealth into the main. John Dryden, Horace.

    See, pious king, with diff’rent strife,
    Thy struggling Albion’s bosom torn:
    So much she fears for William’s life,
    That Mary’s fate she dare not mourn. Matthew Prior.


  1. Fear

    Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion in response to perceiving or recognizing a danger or threat. Fear causes physiological changes that may produce behavioral reactions such as mounting an aggressive response or fleeing the threat. Fear in human beings may occur in response to a certain stimulus occurring in the present, or in anticipation or expectation of a future threat perceived as a risk to oneself. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis. In humans and other animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning. Thus, fear is judged as rational or appropriate and irrational or inappropriate. An irrational fear is called a phobia. Fear is closely related to the emotion anxiety, which occurs as the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. The fear response serves survival by engendering appropriate behavioral responses, so it has been preserved throughout evolution. Sociological and organizational research also suggests that individuals' fears are not solely dependent on their nature but are also shaped by their social relations and culture, which guide their understanding of when and how much fear to feel.Fear is sometimes incorrectly considered the opposite of courage. For the reason that courage is a willingness to face adversity, fear is an example of a condition that makes the exercise of courage possible.


  1. fear

    Fear is an emotional response made in anticipation or recognition of an imminent threat or danger. It is a basic instinct aimed at protecting oneself from harm and can be triggered by either real or perceived threats, leading to various physiological and psychological reactions such as increased heart rate, sweating, anxiety, and a desire to escape or avoid the feared stimuli or situation. Fear can be both a normal and adaptive response, helping individuals survive and make rational decisions, but it can also become irrational or excessive, leading to phobias and anxiety disorders.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Fearnoun

    a variant of Fere, a mate, a companion

  2. Fearnoun

    a painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger; apprehension; anxiety; solicitude; alarm; dread

  3. Fearnoun

    apprehension of incurring, or solicitude to avoid, God's wrath; the trembling and awful reverence felt toward the Supreme Belng

  4. Fearnoun

    respectful reverence for men of authority or worth

  5. Fearnoun

    that which causes, or which is the object of, apprehension or alarm; source or occasion of terror; danger; dreadfulness

  6. Fearnoun

    to feel a painful apprehension of; to be afraid of; to consider or expect with emotion of alarm or solicitude

  7. Fearnoun

    to have a reverential awe of; to solicitous to avoid the displeasure of

  8. Fearnoun

    to be anxious or solicitous for

  9. Fearnoun

    to suspect; to doubt

  10. Fearnoun

    to affright; to terrify; to drive away or prevent approach of by fear

  11. Fearverb

    to be in apprehension of evil; to be afraid; to feel anxiety on account of some expected evil

  12. Etymology: [OE. fer, feer, fere, AS. fr a coming suddenly upon, fear, danger; akin to D. vaar, OHG. fra danger, G. gefahr, Icel. fr harm, mischief, plague, and to E. fare, peril. See Fare.]


  1. Fear

    Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it but in extreme cases of fear a freeze or paralysis response is possible. Some psychologists such as John B. Watson, Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman have suggested that there is only a small set of basic or innate emotions and that fear is one of them. This hypothesized set includes such emotions as joy, sadness, fright, dread, horror, panic, anxiety, acute stress reaction and anger. Fear should be distinguished from the emotion anxiety, which typically occurs without any certain or immediate external threat. Fear is frequently related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. It is worth noting that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. Fear can also be an instant reaction to something presently happening. All people have an instinctual response to potential danger, which is in fact important to the survival of all species. The reactions elicited from fear are seen through advantages in evolution. Fear can be a manipulating and controlling factor in an individual's life.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Fear

    fēr, n. a painful emotion excited by danger: apprehension of danger or pain: alarm: the object of fear: aptness to cause fear: (B.) deep reverence: piety towards God.—v.t. to regard with fear: to expect with alarm: (B.) to stand in awe of: to venerate: (obs.) to terrify: to make afraid.—v.i. to be afraid: to be in doubt.—adj. Fear′ful, timorous: exciting intense fear: terrible.—adv. Fear′fully.—n. Fear′fulness.—adj. Fear′less, without fear: daring: brave.—adv. Fear′lessly.—ns. Fear′lessness; Fear′nought (same as Dreadnaught).—adj. Fear′some, causing fear, frightful.—adv. Fear′somely. [A.S. fǽr, fear, fǽran, to terrify; cf. Ger. gefahr, Ice. fár, harm, mischief.]

  2. Fear

    fēr, n. (Spens.) a companion. [See Fere.]

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. fear

    1. A club used by priests, presidents, kings and policemen to keep the people from recovering stolen goods. 2. The thought of admitted inferiority. 3. The rock on which we split.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Fear

    The affective response to an actual current external danger which subsides with the elimination of the threatening condition.

Suggested Resources

  1. fear

    Song lyrics by fear -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by fear on the Lyrics.com website.

  2. FEAR

    What does FEAR stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the FEAR acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. FEAR

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Fear is ranked #18502 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Fear surname appeared 1,493 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 1 would have the surname Fear.

    94.5% or 1,412 total occurrences were White.
    2% or 30 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.1% or 17 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1% or 16 total occurrences were Black.
    0.6% or 10 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.5% or 8 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fear' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1594

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fear' in Written Corpus Frequency: #2958

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fear' in Nouns Frequency: #486

  4. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'fear' in Verbs Frequency: #383

Anagrams for fear »

  1. rafe

  2. fare

  3. frae

How to pronounce fear?

How to say fear in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of fear in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of fear in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of fear in a Sentence

  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain.

  2. Richard Bach:

    Listen to what you know instead of what you fear.

  3. Stewart L. Udall:

    We have, I fear, confused power with greatness.

  4. Sharan Burrow:

    We know that if governments and industry aren't visionary enough to engage in a dialogue, to put the plan in place, to give people security, then we will see distress, fear and increasingly opposition among people around the world.

  5. Tracy Renaud:

    Once we feel they're ready to actually start conducting some credible fear screenings, we will have those be monitored, we will supervise them.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for fear

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for fear »


Find a translation for the fear definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"fear." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 20 May 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/fear>.

Discuss these fear definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for fear? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Credit »

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    expressing yourself readily, clearly, effectively
    A eminent
    B eloquent
    C epidemic
    D indiscernible

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for fear: