Definition of fear noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//fɪə(r)//
; NAmE NAmE//fɪr//
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  •  [uncountable, countable] the bad feeling that you have when you are in danger, when something bad might happen, or when a particular thing frightens you Her eyes showed no fear. The child was shaking with fear. fear (of somebody/something) (a) fear of the dark/spiders/flying, etc. We lived in constant fear of losing our jobs. fear (for somebody/something) her fears for her son’s safety Alan spoke of his fears for the future. fear (that…) the fear that he had cancer The doctor's report confirmed our worst fears. Synonymsfearterror 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:Her 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 somebody feels when something dangerous or unpleasant might happen:The doctor said there was no cause for alarm.fright a feeling of fear, usually sudden:She 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 See related entries: Fear
  • Word OriginOld English fǣr ‘calamity, danger’, fǣran ‘frighten’, also ‘revere’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch gevaar and German Gefahr ‘danger’.Extra examples Doctors have voiced fears that we may be facing an epidemic. Fears are growing of a new oil embargo. He lied out of fear. He ran away in fear. His face was white with fear. It was the first time she had experienced real fear. My biggest fear was that my children would get sick. My worst fears were confirmed. Nobody refused for fear of being fired. Nobody refused for fear of losing their job. Our fears proved unfounded. Public fears about the disease increased. She did not know why she should feel such fear. She managed to overcome her fear. She stared at him without fear. The boy showed no fear. The government is anxious to allay the public’s fears. The men hesitated in fear of whatever was to come next. The men set off in fear and trepidation. The people live in fear of attack by the bandits. The pupils obeyed through fear of punishment. The sound of gunfire struck fear into the hearts of the villagers. They have a terrible fear of failure. This incident has fuelled fears of a full-scale war. This stoked fears of financial difficulties. When she heard the news, some of her fear subsided. his fear about what might happen my fear for her safety new fears over terrorism the constant fear of discovery the fear that her mother had instilled in her the girl’s childhood fear of being eaten by monsters the most primal fear, that of death (a) fear of the dark/​spiders/​flying He spoke of his fears for the future. I had to run away for fear that he might one day kill me. The child was shaking with fear. The doctor’s report confirmed our worst fears.Idioms
    fools rush in (where angels fear to tread)
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    (saying) people with little experience try to do the difficult or dangerous things which more experienced people would not consider doing
    for fear of something/of doing something, for fear (that)…
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    to avoid the danger of something happening We spoke quietly for fear of waking the guards. I had to run away for fear (that) he might one day kill me. See related entries: Fear
    feeling frightened that you might be killed See related entries: Fear (British English, informal) used to say that you definitely do not want to do something ‘Are you coming climbing?’ ‘No fear!’ See related entries: Fear
    put the fear of God into somebody
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    to make somebody very frightened, especially in order to make them do something See related entries: Fear
    strike fear, etc. into somebody/sb’s heart
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    (formal) to make somebody be afraid, etc.
    (formal) in a fair way They undertook to make their judgement without fear or favour. See related entries: Fear
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: fear