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See also: féar and fear-



Etymology 1[edit]

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

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, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.
    He was struck by fear on seeing the snake.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity:
      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.
    • 1914, Louis Joseph Vance, Nobody, chapter III:
      Turning back, then, toward the basement staircase, she began to grope her way through blinding darkness, but had taken only a few uncertain steps when, of a sudden, she stopped short and for a little stood like a stricken thing, quite motionless save that she quaked to her very marrow in the grasp of a great and enervating fear.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 18, in The China Governess[1]:
      ‘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.
    • 1915, Emerson Hough, The Purchase Price, chapterI:
      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) Terrified veneration or reverence, particularly towards God, gods, or sovereigns.
    • 1611, Bible (KJV), Psalm CXI, verse 10:
      The feare of the Lord is the beginning of wisedome.
    • 1846, J. Ruskin, Modern Painters, volume II, page 121:
      That sacred dread of all offence to him, which is called the Fear of God.
  • (an emotion caused by actual or perceived danger; a sense of fear induced by something or someone): See Wikisaurus:fear
  • (terrified veneration): dread
Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


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

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To cause fear to; to frighten.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter x, in Le Morte Darthur, book V:
      Thenne the knyghte sayd to syre Gawayn / bynde thy wounde or thy blee chaunge / for thou bybledest al thy hors and thy fayre armes / [] / For who someuer is hurte with this blade he shalle neuer be staunched of bledynge / Thenne ansuerd gawayn hit greueth me but lytyl / thy grete wordes shalle not feare me ne lasse my courage
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book III, Canto IV:
      Words fearen babes.
    • William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
      Tush, tush! fear boys with bugs.
  2. (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 II:
      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 July 19, Mark Tran, “Denied an education by war”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 6, page 1:
      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 [regret 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.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English fere, feore, from Old English fēre (able to go, fit for service), from Proto-Germanic *fōriz (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.


fear (comparative more fear, superlative most fear)

  1. (dialectal) Able; capable; stout; strong; sound.
    hale and fear
Alternative forms[edit]


Most common English words before 1923: possible · mark · followed · #426: fear · evening · ground · understand




From Old Irish fer, from Proto-Celtic *wiros, from Proto-Indo-European *wiHrós. Cognate with Welsh gŵr, Latin vir, and Old English wer.



fear m (genitive singular fir, nominative plural fir)

  1. man
    Tá an fear ag ól uisce.
    The man is drinking water.
  2. husband, male spouse


Derived terms[edit]


Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
fear fhear bhfear
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.


  • 1 fer” in Dictionary of the Irish Language, Royal Irish Academy, 1913–76.
  • Tomás de Bhaldraithe, 1977, Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge: An Deilbhíocht, 2nd edition, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, section 5 and page 339.
  • "fear" in Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla, An Gúm, 1977, by Niall Ó Dónaill.



fear (plural fears)

  1. fear


fear (third-person singular present fears, present participle fearin, past feart, past participle feart)

  1. to fear
  2. to frighten, scare

Scottish Gaelic[edit]



fear m (genitive singular fir, plural fir)

  1. man
  2. husband, male spouse


First declension; forms with the definite article:

Case Singular Plural
Nominative am fear na fir
Vocative fhir fhir
Genitive an fhir nam fear/fir
Dative leis an fhear leis na fir

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


fear (genitive fir)

  1. somebody, something, one

Usage notes[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


Scottish Gaelic mutation
Radical Lenition
fear fhear
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

West Frisian[edit]


fear c (plural fearren, no diminutive)

  1. ferry
  2. spring (mechanical device)