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



    BrE BrE//ˈnaɪtmeə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈnaɪtmer//
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  1. 1a dream that is very frightening or unpleasant He still has nightmares about the accident. She has a recurring nightmare about being stuck in a lift.
  2. 2nightmare (for somebody) an experience that is very frightening and unpleasant, or very difficult to deal with The trip turned into a nightmare when they both got sick. (informal) Nobody knows what's going on—it's a nightmare! (informal) Filling in all those forms was a nightmare. Losing a child is most people's worst nightmare. If it goes ahead, it will be the nightmare scenario (= the worst thing that could happen). a nightmare situation
  3. Word OriginMiddle English (denoting a female evil spirit who was thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers): from night + Old English mære ‘incubus’.Extra examples Losing a child is my worst nightmare. The faces of all the people he had killed haunted his nightmares. The film gave me nightmares. The refugees had survived a living nightmare. The writer evokes a nightmare vision of a future on a polluted planet. Their dream of living in the country turned into a nightmare when they both fell seriously ill. the nightmare scenario of mass unemployment Horror films always give me nightmares. If it goes ahead it will be the nightmare scenario. Losing a child is most people’s worst nightmare. Nobody knows what’s going on— it’s a nightmare! She has spoken about it to help others get over the nightmare of addiction. The nightmare began last Wednesday afternoon. These new regulations will be an administrative nightmare. This has been an absolute nightmare for me and my family.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: nightmare