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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English sker, skere (terror, fright), from the verb Middle English skerren (to frighten) (see below).


scare (plural scares)

  1. A minor fright.
    Johnny had a bad scare last night.
    • 2011 June 4, Phil McNulty, “England 2 - 2 Switzerland”, in BBC[1]:
      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.
  2. A cause of slight terror; something that inspires fear or dread.
    a food-poisoning scare
  3. A device or object used to frighten.
    • 1948, Alec H. Chisholm, Bird Wonders of Australia, page 153:
      But I admit the possibility of their being used as "scares" for either birds of prey or snakes, or both.


Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English scaren, skaren, scarren, skeren, skerren, from Old Norse skirra (to frighten; to shrink away from, shun; to prevent, avert), from Proto-Germanic *skirzijaną (to shoo, scare off), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to swing, jump, move). Related to Old Norse skjarr (timid, shy, afraid of). Cognate with Scots skar (wild, timid, shy), dialectal Norwegian Nynorsk skjerra, dialectal Swedish skjarra.


scare (third-person singular simple present scares, present participle scaring, simple past and past participle scared)

  1. 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!



Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]


scare (comparative more scare, superlative most scare)

  1. lean; scanty




From Latin scarus (also genus name Scarus), from Ancient Greek σκάρος (skáros).



scare m (plural scares)

  1. parrotfish

Further reading[edit]