An alteration (first attested in the 1520s) of Middle English sker ("fear, dread") (which is itself first attested c. 1400). Middle English sker is a nominal derivative of the Middle English verb skerren, which gave rise to the Modern English verb "scare". See etymology of the verb below.
scare (plural scares)
- A minor fright.
- Johnny had a bad scare last night.
2011 June 4, Phil McNulty, “England 2 - 2 Switzerland”, in BBC:
- England were held to a draw after surviving a major scare against Switzerland as they were forced to come from two goals behind to earn a point in the Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley.
- A cause of slight terror; something that inspires fear or dread.
- JM is a scare to the capitalists of this country.
An alteration (first attested in the 1590s) of Middle English skerren (which is itself first attested c. 1200). Middle English skerren is derived from the Old Norse verb skirra ("to frighten; to shrink away from, shun; to prevent, avert"), which is related to the Old Norse noun skjarr ("timid, shy, afraid of") of unknown ultimate origin. Compare Scots skar ("wild, timid, shy").
- To frighten, terrify, startle, especially in a minor way.
- Did it scare you when I said "Boo!"?
- c. 1851, Henry VI, Part 3 (III:i, v. 6-7), William Shakespeare
- That cannot be; the noise of thy crossbow / Will scare the herd, and so my shoot is lost.
- 1995 The Langoliers
- (Laurel Stevenson) Would you please be quiet? You're scaring the little girl.
- (Craig Toomey) Scaring the little girl?! Scaring the little girl?! Lady!
scare m (plural scares)