Definition of scare in English:



[with object]
  • 1Cause great fear or nervousness in; frighten.

    ‘the rapid questions were designed to scare her into blurting out the truth’
    • ‘The man says he is convinced that they were large, non-native cats and said he was shocked and scared by the confrontation.’
    • ‘I know guys are supposed to be driven by their hormones at this age, but Eros was really, really scaring me with how driven he actually was.’
    • ‘If the cow gets too close to the fence co-ordinates, the collar will make a noise, or give the cow an electric shock to scare it away.’
    • ‘They are scared stiff of what other people think, who in turn are scared stiff of what they think.’
    • ‘We humans love to scare ourselves, but rarely do our worst fears come to be - partly because we worry so much.’
    • ‘Shock and awe rested, it was argued, ultimately on the ability to ‘frighten, scare, intimidate and disarm’.’
    • ‘Some are scared stiff of losing their work, others are pressured by family members not to complain.’
    • ‘She was wasting her time, trying to scare an already badly frightened man.’
    • ‘I had never been scared by wind before and I was shocked to have found this fear.’
    • ‘A brave businesswoman who is scared stiff of sharks is set to take the charity plunge into a tank full of the fearsome fish.’
    • ‘The biggest fear was one that could easily happen and was what scared them most!’
    • ‘He took a couple steps forward and thrust out with his sword, hoping to intimidate them or scare them away.’
    • ‘The word alone creates fear, and by now almost anything manages to scare a lot of Americans.’
    • ‘Instilling a feeling of insecurity is the best way to scare your population into submission and frighten away potential investors.’
    • ‘I suspect from the amount of screaming she did (the nurses closed the door for fear she would scare the other patients) that it hurt.’
    • ‘A masculine voice inquired from somewhere to her left, effectively scaring the living daylights out of Sydney and drawing a startled yelp from her lips.’
    • ‘This news really scared the other animals and panic was starting to grip them.’
    • ‘With every corner she turned she had to fly past another guard, and with every door she opened another alarm would sound and scare her out of her wits.’
    • ‘I realized I must look rather intimidating so I relaxed and laughed so as not to scare everyone further.’
    • ‘But the upper class is scared stiff of his rise, and plots to foil his attempts through fraud.’
    frighten, make afraid, make fearful, make nervous, panic, throw into a panic
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    1. 1.1with object and adverbial Drive or keep (someone) away by frightening them.
      ‘the ugly scenes scared the holiday crowds away’
      • ‘Surly it must have been scared off by something, but what can frighten an animal that size?’
      • ‘The Tories were so keen to push ahead with the float that they failed to order a full inventory of the company's assets, fearing this would scare off investors.’
      • ‘Kira is credited with scaring off the intruder and saving her mother's life by phoning the police and ambulance and attending to Diane's wounds.’
      • ‘Grey-headed sparrows are relatively nervous birds and if you scare them away a few times they will go off and look elsewhere for a nest site.’
      • ‘I think she decided what she wanted, and she wasn't going to get scared off too easily.’
      • ‘It's hard not to feel smug pleasure on hearing that Cornish authorities went so overboard on black propaganda about eclipse chaos that some now regret scaring off any possible lucrative visitors.’
      • ‘Party sources believe the campaign is aimed at scaring people away from transferring votes to the party and harming their chances of success just weeks before the election.’
      • ‘I'd wanted it to scare him off, send him fleeing back to wherever he'd come from.’
      • ‘Sarah didn't move, didn't dare to breath in fear of scaring the cat away.’
      • ‘The new bill is scaring off other new investment, too.’
      • ‘Mel isn't easily scared off by that and accepts the invitation to fight the man.’
      • ‘The reason for the low turnout could be that the authorities' tough approach scared people away.’
      • ‘Europe's venture capitalists fear new reporting rules will scare away investors away’
      • ‘I think their behaviour has been scaring people away from the lagoon.’
      • ‘Talking the dollar down is easy enough, but the strategy depends on a smooth descent that boosts US growth without scaring off the overseas investors who fund the twin deficits.’
      • ‘When someone opens the door it hits the door jam and sets off an alarm that will scare them away and wake you up.’
      • ‘However, by the time his application was dealt with, more than six weeks later, the eggs had become chicks and, short of seeing them starve to death by scaring away their mother, he was powerless to act.’
      • ‘We're trying to be cautious about not discriminating, not scaring away patients that need care, and yet getting care and getting funding to the hospitals.’
      • ‘American moviemakers and studio executives have always been slower to respond to social unrest, perhaps out of fear that controversy will scare away audiences.’
      • ‘If she's so annoying she scares people off, then you might be her only friend.’
      drive away, drive off, drive out, put to flight, send away, scare off, scatter
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    2. 1.2no object Become scared.
      ‘I don't think I scare easily’
      • ‘This dog will scare easily and will most probably beat you to the hiding place if an intruder bursts into your home!’
      • ‘But these are committed professionals who don't scare easily.’
      • ‘Financial writer Kenneth Klee - who doesn't scare easily - remains in the game.’
      • ‘Ayako wasn't one to scare easily, and she knew full well they'd catch onto that.’
      • ‘And here is another lesson from history: this is not a city whose people scare easily.’
      • ‘Mr Mooring, who served with the Eighth Army and saw action at El-Alamein, does not scare easily.’
      • ‘The horse Johnny uses to deliver the Boston Observer, Goblin is fast and of great physical prowess, but is difficult to ride because it scares easily.’
      • ‘She didn't scare easily and it was a widely known fact.’
      • ‘At 74, Browning has lived through more presidential campaigns than she cares to remember and she claims not to scare easily.’
      • ‘Not all enemies scare so easily - we tried to unnerve a nearby guard during the brief time we spent with the game by flickering a spotlight, but to no avail.’


  • 1A sudden attack of fright.

    ‘gosh, that gave me a scare!’
    • ‘My mind was kind putting me at rest after it gave me the scare of my life.’
    • ‘Ivory's head snapped up to look him straight in the eyes, her face now a pale sheet of white from the sudden scare.’
    • ‘If you have a scare, you are suddenly aware of your body.’
    • ‘When audiences buy into the trailer of a studio horror flick, they accept the unwritten disclaimer stating that nothing original will happen, yet some well-worked scares are there for the taking.’
    • ‘Everything is so desperately contrived and unconvincing that you really don't care what happens, and any scares along the way are as frightening as a close friend shouting ‘boo’.’
    • ‘When the game started 45 minutes later I got the scare of my life.’
    • ‘Even with an admittedly disturbing ring, a cell phone could never match the scare of a clown jumping out of a closet, brandishing an ice pick.’
    • ‘Megan immediately halted and leaned on the pole tip for support, gulping in air after the sudden scare.’
    • ‘‘I suppose I gave quite a scare,’ he chuckled in amusement.’
    • ‘It almost seems too emotionally manipulative for a horror show, it doesn't truly rely on scares or spookiness just loss and pain and the suggestion of mental illness.’
    • ‘It has a fair share of scares and horror moments in it, ones that stick with you after the movie is over.’
    • ‘Which reminds me to mention a word of caution when managing cows around calving time, there is nothing like a good scare to make one realise the dangers of attack.’
    • ‘She figured that he was on the phone or watching television, and decided to jump in the room and maybe give him the scare of his life.’
    • ‘Mama gave me the scare of my life!’
    • ‘They had been given a scare; one that will stand them in good stead.’
    • ‘The plot is very hokey, just like any good horror movie, but the scares are genuine.’
    • ‘The story is gripping and, although the pace is less frenetic than other genre outings, there are plenty of shocks and scares.’
    • ‘For example, when we see that Emily owns a cat, is there any doubt it will jump out at someone for a cheap scare later on?’
    • ‘It brilliantly mixes action, atmosphere and jump-out-of-your-seat scares and its female protagonists look likely to succeed in taking the film beyond horror's usual male fan base.’
    • ‘I really enjoy the scare from a great horror movie, but have to say it runs a close second place to a great comedy or romantic comedy!’
    fright, shock, start, turn, jump
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    1. 1.1usually with modifier A situation characterized by a sudden and typically widespread sense of alarm or anxiety about something.
      ‘the event was postponed earlier this year due to the foot-and-mouth scare’
      ‘recent food scares have made the public rightly sensitive to new, apparently untested technologies’
      ‘Aimee has been given the all-clear after a breast cancer scare’
      • ‘She was upset at having been implicated in causing a food scare and described the report as "absolute nonsense".’
      • ‘Many of those who gave up beef following the BSE scare have gone back to eating organic beef.’
      • ‘Three years later, in 1957, America went through one of its biggest nuclear scares.’
      • ‘The recent scare over Scottish salmon highlighted the need for the highest standards in production.’
      • ‘One of the reasons why people need to be taught how to use the computer properly is that there have been some recent scares about internet security.’
      • ‘He says talking publicly about his own cancer scare helped him get through it.’
      • ‘Nearly every year a frost scare occurs in the grain market.’
      • ‘Recent food scares have made the public sensitive to new, apparently untested technologies.’
      • ‘The number of food scares over recent years has not only made the consumer more aware of what they eat, but also where they eat.’
      • ‘A major pollution scare was sparked off in York after dead fish were found floating in the River Foss.’
      • ‘The recent mad cow crisis is only the latest in a series of food scares that have driven consumers to demand more precise food labeling regulations.’
      • ‘A year of financial crises, political scandal and swine flu scares have battered national confidence.’
      • ‘Despite recent scares, online banking is still on the rise.’
      • ‘The move follows a scare on May 11, when authorities ordered workers to evacuate several federal buildings.’
      • ‘The lake, which was closed due to bacteria scares in January 2002, faces a new crisis as low water levels threaten to close the recreational spot in the middle of the skiing season.’
      • ‘A tourist caused a security scare when he deliberately left his bag of dirty washing on a plane which brought him home from Ibiza.’
      • ‘She has resumed official duties after 20 days of medical leave following a cancer scare.’
      • ‘Thousands of mini-buses are likely to be recalled by manufacturers Mercedes-Benz after a crash in Greater Manchester triggered a safety scare.’
      • ‘In Germany, the food scare has sparked an about-face on agricultural policy.’
      • ‘Commuters travelling on London Underground services last night were facing further disruption in the wake of the terror attacks and security scares.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • scare something up

    • Manage to find or obtain something.

      ‘for a price, the box office can usually scare up a pair of tickets’
      • ‘My guess is it might take time to scare something up though, since a lot of these ladies are the bubble bath and satin and roses and hot air balloon ride types - big dreamers with dashed hopes, I guess.’
      • ‘And each was a special customer, and he was determined to serve their needs and he would see if he couldn't scare something up.’


Middle English: from Old Norse skirra ‘frighten’, from skjarr ‘timid’.