Definition: Fear

From New World Encyclopedia
(Redirected from Fear)


From Middle English feer, fere, fer, from Old English fǣr, ġefǣr (calamity, sudden danger, peril, sudden attack, terrible sight), from Proto-Germanic *fērō, *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), Romanian frică. Doublet of peril.

The verb is from Middle English feren, from Old English fǣran (to frighten, raven), from the noun. Cognate with the archaic Dutch verb varen (to fear, to cause fear).


fear (countable and uncountable, plural fears)

  1. (uncountable) A strong, unpleasant emotion or feeling caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.
    He was struck by fear on seeing the snake.
  2. (countable) A phobia, a sense of fear induced by something or someone.
    Not everybody has the same fears. I have a fear of sudden loud noises.
  3. (uncountable) Terrified veneration or reverence, particularly towards God, gods, or sovereigns.

Derived terms

  • affear
  • fear campaign
  • fearful
  • fearless
  • fearmonger
  • fearsome


fear (third-person singular simple present fears, present participle fearing, simple past and past participle feared)

  1. (transitive) To be afraid of (something or someone); to consider or expect (something or someone) with alarm.
    I fear the worst will happen.
  2. (intransitive) To feel fear.
    Never fear; help is always near.
  3. (intransitive, used with for) To worry about, to feel concern for, to be afraid for, usually in the phrase "fear for."
    She fears for her son’s safety.
  4. (transitive) To venerate; to feel awe towards.
    People who fear God can be found in Christian churches.
  5. (transitive) To regret.
    I fear I have bad news for you: there is quite a chance that the company will go out of business.

Derived terms

  • Allah-fearing
  • fear not
  • God-fearing
  • gods-fearing
  • never fear


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors copied and adjusted this Wiktionary entry in accordance with NWE standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit for this article is due to both New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions at Wiktionary is accessible to researchers here: