American English

Definition of terror noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable, singular] a feeling of extreme fear a feeling of sheer/pure terror Her eyes were wild with terror. People fled from the explosion in terror. She lives in terror of (= is constantly afraid of) losing her job. Some women have a terror of losing control in the birth process. (literary) The very name of the enemy struck terror into their hearts. Thesaurusfearterror panic alarm frightThese are all words for the bad feeling you have when you are afraid.fear the bad feeling that you have when you are in danger, when something bad might happen, or when a particular thing frightens you:(a) fear of flying She showed no fear.terror a feeling of extreme fear:His eyes were wild with terror.panic a sudden feeling of great fear that cannot be controlled and prevents you from thinking clearly:I had a sudden moment of panic.alarm fear or worry that someone feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen:The doctor said there was no cause for alarm.fright a feeling of fear, usually sudden:I cried out in fright.fear or fright?Fright is a reaction to something that has just happened or is happening now. Use fear, but not fright, to talk about things that always frighten you and things that may happen in the future:I have a fright of spiders. his fright of what might happenPatterns a fear/terror of something in fear/terror/panic/alarm/fright fear/terror/panic/alarm that… to be filled with fear/terror/panic/alarm a feeling of fear/terror/panic/alarm
  2. 2[countable] a person, situation, or thing that makes you very afraid These street gangs have become the terror of the neighborhood. Death holds no terrors for (= does not frighten or worry) me. The terrors of the night were past.
  3. 3[uncountable] violent action or the threat of violent action that is intended to cause fear, usually for political purposes synonym terrorism a campaign of terror terror tactics see also reign of terror
  4. 4[countable] (informal) a person (usually a child) or an animal that causes you trouble or is difficult to control Their kids are real little terrors.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: terror