• Fear


    • Australia IPA: /fiə/
    • UK IPA: /fɪə/
    • US IPA: /fi(ə)ɹ/
    • Rhymes: -ɪə(r)

    Origin 1

    From Middle English feer, fere, fer, from Old English fǣr, ġefǣr ("calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack, terrible sight"), from Proto-Germanic *fērą ("danger"), from Proto-Indo-European *per- ("to attempt, try, research, risk"). Cognate with Dutch gevaar ("danger, risk, peril"), German Gefahr ("danger, risk, hazard"), Swedish fara ("danger, risk, peril"), Latin perīculum ("danger, risk, trial"), Albanian frikë ("fear,danger").

    Full definition of fear



    (countable and uncountable; plural fears)
    1. (uncountable: unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger)(uncountable) A strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.
      He was struck by fear on seeing the snake.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 8, I corralled the judge, and we started off across the fields, in no very mild state of fear of that gentleman's wife, whose vigilance was seldom relaxed.
      • 1963, Margery Allingham, The China Governess Chapter 18, ‘Then the father has a great fight with his terrible conscience,’ said Munday with granite seriousness. ‘Should he make a row with the police ?  Or should he say nothing about it and condone brutality for fear of appearing in the newspapers?’
    2. (countable) A phobia, a sense of fear induced by something or someone.
      Not everybody has the same fears.
      I have a fear of ants.
      • 1910, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price Chapter 1, Serene, smiling, enigmatic, she faced him with no fear whatever showing in her dark eyes. The clear light of the bright autumn morning had no terrors for youth and health like hers.
    3. (uncountable) Extreme veneration or awe, as toward a supreme being or deity.
      • Bible, Jeremiah xxxii. 40I will put my fear in their hearts.
      • Bible, Psalms xxxiv. 11I will teach you the fear of the Lord.


    Origin 2

    From Middle English feren, from Old English fǣran ("to frighten, raven"), from Old English fǣr, ġefǣr ("calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack, terrible sight"). See above.


    1. (obsolete, transitive) To cause fear to; to frighten.
    2. (feel fear about (something))(transitive) To feel fear about (something); to be afraid of; to consider or expect with alarm.
      I fear the worst will happen.
      I fear for their safety.
      • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)I greatly fear my money is not safe.
      • 1893, Walter Besant, The Ivory Gate Chapter 2, At twilight in the summer there is never anybody to fear—man, woman, or cat—in the chambers and at that hour the mice come out. They do not eat parchment or foolscap or red tape, but they eat the luncheon crumbs.
      • 2013-07-19, Mark Tran, Denied an education by war, One particularly damaging, but often ignored, effect of conflict on education is the proliferation of attacks on schools...as children, teachers or school buildings become the targets of attacks. Parents fear sending their children to school. Girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence.
    3. (transitive) To venerate; to feel awe towards.
      People who fear God can be found in Christian churches.
    4. (transitive) Regret.
      I fear that I have bad news for you: your husband has died.
    5. (obsolete) To be anxious or solicitous for.
      • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children, therefore ... I fear you.
    6. (obsolete) To suspect; to doubt.


    Origin 3

    From Middle English fere, feore, from Old English fēre ("able to go, fit for service"), from Proto-Germanic *fōriz, *fōrijaz ("passable"), from Proto-Indo-European *per- ("to put across, ferry"). Cognate with Scots fere, feir ("well, active, sound"), Middle High German gevüere ("able, capable, fit, serviceable"), Swedish för ("capable, able, stout"), Icelandic færr ("able"). Related to fare.

    Alternative forms



    1. (dialectal) Able; capable; stout; strong; sound.hale and fear


    © Wiktionary