Definition of fearful in English:



  • 1Feeling or showing fear or anxiety.

    ‘they are fearful of the threat of nuclear war’
    [with clause] ‘he's fearful that his career is over’
    • ‘When you know who you are, there's no need to feel weird or threatened or fearful of people who aren't exactly like you.’
    • ‘Often the most panicked people are bystanders who become extremely fearful but have no outlet for that energy.’
    • ‘The current, ever-present threat of an imminent war can often make people feel fearful and powerless.’
    • ‘Some farmers are fearful that they are not being properly rewarded for the quality of the milk they produce.’
    • ‘Are you really fearful of being misinterpreted or are you just afraid to stand up for your constituents?’
    • ‘Everyone is fearful for his future, and fear leads people to do amazing, extraordinary things.’
    • ‘If we are fearful of the consequences of murder then we are not likely to carry out a murder and that is good and to be welcomed.’
    • ‘When this area of our life is threatened we become fearful and disillusioned.’
    • ‘She saw the looks of fearful people, but what they were afraid of she didn't know.’
    • ‘There's no question that at the time of the abduction she was in fear and was fearful for a period of time.’
    • ‘For example, over the past two decades I was excessively fearful of inflation.’
    • ‘His characters are guilty and fearful, their predicaments horrendous.’
    • ‘This lady points out her home here among the rubble, but she is afraid of being seen on camera, fearful of what may happen to her.’
    • ‘Granted, most people would be afraid to interfere, fearful of the consequences.’
    • ‘We stood locked in a battle of stares for a minute, my horrified expression gazing into her fearful one.’
    • ‘She was horrified by this show of affection and fearful of its consequences.’
    • ‘I have felt powerless, disgusted, frustrated, horrified and even fearful this week, all in equal measure.’
    • ‘Just reading that list of cautions makes me fearful about ever leaving my two daughters home by themselves.’
    • ‘But he's a timid child, fearful of water, heights, spiders, darkness and the great outdoors.’
    • ‘Players are tentative and nervous, fearful that one missed shot or ugly turnover will earn them a seat on the bench.’
    afraid, frightened, scared, scared stiff, scared to death, terrified, petrified
    nervous, trembling, quaking, quivering, shrinking, cowering, cowed, daunted
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    1. 1.1Causing or likely to cause people to be afraid; horrifying.
      ‘a fearful accident’
      • ‘When we are faced by a fearful situation it is human nature to hide our emotions behind a brave front and to smile when inside we are crying.’
      • ‘Economists nevertheless refuse to be alarmed by fearful prognoses of deflation.’
      • ‘We are grieving not just for the dead but also for all our own fearful futures - the threat of war, more suffering and more fanatical hatred.’
      • ‘So we are intended to be relieved of the fear that our dying need be a fearful experience.’
      • ‘Among the nations there are fearful wars and dreadful diseases.’
      • ‘An Arab writer on the consequences of the Black Death for animals added another hideous dimension to our awareness of that fearful episode.’
      • ‘There are no limits to our human ability to justify our fear for, in truth, the world is a fearful place.’
      • ‘The literature supports an Oedipal stage, but finds that a good superego is likely to come from a loving rather than a fearful relationship with a father.’
      • ‘It did not gain that influence by producing timid and fearful programmes.’
      • ‘With fearful symmetry, ' terror ' has acquired a new meaning, too.’
      • ‘Bad experiences can lead to the development of fearful beliefs about the future - fears the past will be repeated if we act the same way again.’
      • ‘Call it by its real name and much of the fearful power of the thing is lost.’
      • ‘In spite of his fear he decides to accompany his master on this fearful adventure.’
      • ‘It came to mind that Christians who encountered Paul would have found him shocking and fearful.’
      • ‘To the outside world, Chernobyl stands as a fearful accident and a catalogue of gross errors.’
      terrible, dreadful, awful, appalling, frightful, ghastly, horrific, horrible, horrifying, horrendous, very bad, terribly bad, shocking, atrocious, abominable, hideous, monstrous, dire, grim, unspeakable, gruesome, grievous, lamentable, distressing, harrowing, alarming
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  • 2informal Very great.

    ‘he was in a fearful hurry’
    very great, great, extreme, real, dreadful
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