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



    BrE BrE//ˈpænɪk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpænɪk//
    [uncountable, countable, usually singular]
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  1. 1a sudden feeling of great fear that cannot be controlled and prevents you from thinking clearly a moment of panic They were in a state of panic. Office workers fled in panic as the fire took hold. There's no point getting into a panic about the exams. a panic attack (= a condition in which you suddenly feel very anxious, causing your heart to beat faster, etc.) a panic decision (= one that is made when you are in a state of panic) A look of panic crossed his face. The mere thought of flying fills me with panic. 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
  2. 2a situation in which people are made to feel very anxious, causing them to act quickly and without thinking carefully News of the losses caused (a) panic among investors. Careful planning at this stage will help to avoid a last-minute panic. There's no panic (= we do not need to rush), we've got plenty of time. panic buying/selling (= the act of buying/selling things quickly and without thinking carefully because you are afraid that a particular situation will become worse)
  3. Word Originearly 17th cent.: from French panique, from modern Latin panicus, from Greek panikos, from the name of the god Pan in Greek mythology, noted for causing terror, to whom woodland noises were attributed.Extra examples Eli was clearly in panic mode. He felt panic rising within him. He jumped out of the car in a panic. Her mind went blank with panic. I felt a surge of panic when I realized my mistake. In the ensuing panic, they lost each other. Panic buying turned the petrol shortage into a crisis. Panic swept through the crowd. People fled in panic. She still has panic attacks two years after the accident. She went into a blind panic when she couldn’t find the exit. The house includes a panic room which you can run to if intruders enter the house. The keys were lost during the panic over the fire alarm. The shopkeeper pressed the panic button and the police arrived in minutes. The thought of being in charge threw him into a mild panic. There was a last-minute panic when nobody could find the tickets. a moral panic over rising crime rates panic about food contamination panic among the population people suffering from depression and panic disorders I had a sudden moment of panic. There’s no point getting into a panic about the exams. a panic attackIdioms (British English, informal) a situation in which people feel anxious and there is a lot of confused activity, especially because there is a lot to do in a short period of time It was panic stations when the deadline was brought forward by a week.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: panic