Definition of dread in English:



  • 1 Anticipate with great apprehension or fear.

    ‘Jane was dreading the party’
    [with infinitive] ‘I dread to think what Russell will say’
    • ‘If £7 represents ‘good value’ in the gloom of winter, I'd dread to think how they will value summer fare.’
    • ‘She was filled with apprehension, dreading the near vertical drop.’
    • ‘If this were a regular occurrence I would dread to think of what effect it would have on me.’
    • ‘And we dread to think how much money was paid to consultants to dream up this nonsense.’
    • ‘The moment they had been dreading and anticipating was upon them and there was no way to avoid it now.’
    • ‘He likes the pound being strong - most of his business is in the UK, but he buys machinery from overseas so a strong pound helps - and he dreads the increased bureaucracy closer ties with Europe could bring.’
    • ‘Minorities, be they linguistic or religious, dread the assimilation as much as they fear exclusion.’
    • ‘I had no chance to react and dread to think of the consequences had I been a few inches to the right hand side of the road.’
    • ‘Mary was a religious zealot, whose bloody reign confirmed the worst fears of those who dreaded female rule.’
    • ‘I would dread to think that a scene such as the one I witnessed at the age of twelve could happen in a playground now.’
    • ‘The moment I had been dreading all week finally arrived - the hacks' party at Bute House.’
    • ‘We dread to think what the punishment for ‘breaking’ this law will be.’
    • ‘Over the next few days William dreaded every knock at the door fearing that it may be the police, that they had been recognised.’
    • ‘I fear that I will dread the same fears that burden me now.’
    • ‘If there's one thing any parent dreads it's the thought of their children being caught up in drugs.’
    • ‘The rest of their mates looked on in apprehensive silence, dreading what would happen next.’
    • ‘When I worked for the Labour Party we used to dread Easter week more than any other.’
    • ‘Her glance matched mine with apprehension, I dreaded what would come from her lips.’
    • ‘You may dread going, fearing that you'll wind up weeping in public.’
    • ‘I didn't know why, but for some reason I was dreading the dinner party the mistress was throwing on Saturday.’
    fear, be afraid of, worry about, be anxious about, have forebodings about, feel apprehensive about
    be terrified by, cower at, shudder at, tremble at, cringe from, shrink from, quail from, flinch from
    have cold feet about, be in a blue funk about
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic Regard with great awe or reverence.


  • 1Great fear or apprehension.

    ‘the thought of returning to New Jersey filled her with dread’
    [in singular] ‘I used to have a dread of Sunday afternoons’
    • ‘However each disorder is bonded to the other disorders by the common theme of excessive, irrational fear and dread.’
    • ‘We, as outsiders, do not know if they fought over this, if tears were shed, if threats were made, if their nights were filled with worry and dread.’
    • ‘It is the strength of this desire that breeds his morbid dread of humiliation.’
    • ‘In common with all politicians, he has a dread of winter elections.’
    • ‘Her expression changed to one of pure fear and dread.’
    • ‘Religion then consists in obeisance to these larger forces, to overcome our fear and dread of the future.’
    • ‘Is the experience associated with fear, dread, or elation?’
    • ‘Almost two years of apprehension, vague dread, and sheer frustration may be what ultimately gets the ball rolling again.’
    • ‘I made a cup of coffee instead and quietly surfed through my daily blogs until that feeling of dread and apprehension began to fade.’
    • ‘Immigration officers fill me with fear and dread.’
    • ‘To the very degree that the countdown to his departure next summer seems, for years, to have be anticipated with a mix of fear and dread by the Celtic faithful.’
    • ‘Terror is an aggravated form of fear: intense fear, fright or dread.’
    • ‘You can feel the fear, terror and dread emanating from her very subtle and realistic facial gestures.’
    • ‘And of course, revolution is coached in freedom or change, while terrorism is intended to instill fear and evoke dread.’
    • ‘And it's praying for the other captives and other families who are living in fear and dread.’
    • ‘Every scientist held an air of great anxiety and anticipation, yet also of fear, dread, and horror as they worked.’
    • ‘Christy was filled with dread and fear, for she knew that if given the chance, Kevin would be true to his word.’
    • ‘My stomach was a tight knot of dread, fear and something very close to the child-like terror I used to feel for the dark.’
    • ‘Apathy, fear, dread of moving on - all these things are components that contribute to this current approach of mine to writing this thesis.’
    • ‘Panic, fear and dread take turns punching you in the solar plexus.’
    • ‘This knowledge filled her with dread and excitement, fear and anticipation.’
    • ‘He just wants to paralyze a nation, cause fear and panic and dread to become part of our everyday lives.’
    fear, fearfulness, apprehension, trepidation, anxiety, worry, concern, foreboding, disquiet, disquietude, unease, uneasiness, angst
    fright, panic, alarm
    terror, horror, trembling, shuddering, flinching
    the jitters, a blue funk, the heebie-jeebies
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  • 2informal A person with dreadlocks.

    • ‘Don't even think for a minute that the Rastafarians are only in the business of making mats and brooms… you ever see a fat dread yet?’
    • ‘Black, white, gay, straight, punks, dreads, skinheads, boys and girls, we had totally connected with militant anti-racist youth.’
    1. 2.1Dreadlocks.
      • ‘He re-tied his dreads in a loose ponytail, which flopped over his left shoulder.’
      • ‘And on the subject of my hair, well Ace said it was ‘disgusting’ and that I looked like even more of a hippy with the shaved back and sides than I did with all the dreads.’
      • ‘He wanted me to cut my dreads, for instance, and I was always in the back row.’
      • ‘We get a mixture of folk at our gigs from crusty punks with dreads to spiky tops in studded jackets and good anti-fascist skins and we don't judge anyone on their appearance - they are all welcome.’
      • ‘‘A pretty girl like you shouldn't be sitting all by herself,’ a tall guy with light brown hair done up in dreads said, looking down at me.’
      • ‘After the takeover, he began growing dreadlocks; five months later, they are still baby dreads, but as his exile lengthens, so do the tendrils.’
      • ‘Charli is my favourite and probably dates someone with dreads.’
      • ‘She is plaiting Duck's hair into dreads for the performance and laughing and joking, playing around on the lighting deck.’
      • ‘I had dreads for five years and long hair for most of my life, and you hold everything in them, like emotionally and spiritually - in the locks.’
      • ‘He walked over to a scary looking guy with a ponytail who was talking to another semi-intimidating guy with dreads.’
      • ‘He never speaks (or at least hasn't in my company), and despite his bum-length dreads and army wear, seems to blend quite easily into the blur of Ednburgh life.’
      • ‘Part of the style in the photo seems to be using an oversize cap, but that may just be necessary because of the dreads.’
      • ‘We did our hair up in braids 'cause they had dreads, and would always rock the black hoodies and all that.’
      • ‘Most of the people were college students, their Mohawks, pixie-cuts, dreads, just bobbing in anticipation of being with more teenagers.’
      • ‘He then proceeded to cut off all my dreads until I was left with messy short blondish hair with brown roots.’
      • ‘I was the crazy one with dreads who showed you some pictures on a digital camera.’
      • ‘Lose the Iverson braids and shoulder-length dreads.’
      • ‘P had dirty blonde dreads, shocking front teeth, and a scabby old dog which gave us all scabies.’
      • ‘It seems that uni's a short interim period where you can grow your mullet long, propagate a fine crop of dreads, and hold generally left-wing opinions if that's your bag.’
      • ‘When I put mine in dreads, it was long and wavy and a little frizzy.’


  • 1[attributive] Greatly feared; dreadful.

    ‘he was stricken with the dread disease and died’
    • ‘Advances in medicine are increasing life expectancy and diseases which are dread killers today will be curable tomorrow.’
    • ‘In other words, men face a 70% higher risk of dying from this dread disease.’
    • ‘Under this same heading, the so-called dread disease cover also is an important benefit one can add to a conventional life assurance policy.’
    • ‘A Caucasian Chalk Circle for our own age, it begins with the howl of death mingled with dread despair and ends with an act of terrible tenderness.’
    • ‘With the air-conditioning switched off, it was becoming hot and stuffy in the confined cabin space, and only there did I really begin to feel the dread hand of fear.’
    • ‘Somehow I think that if there was a war on, this dread disease could be cured with remarkable ease.’
    • ‘People still shrink from the terrible word cancer, even if they themselves have not been diagnosed with this dread disease.’
    • ‘However, when he arrived he had the dread symptoms of the disease.’
    • ‘I thought it was her nature, but when she got over the dread disease she had brought into the home… her true nature came out.’
    • ‘If we can safely deliver ourselves and our descendants from certain dread diseases, we should probably do so.’
    • ‘By 1957, another dread disease was all but conquered: acute anterior poliomyelitis, which might cripple for life those it did not kill.’
    • ‘While the world has been saved from epidemics of dread diseases, some of today's children are being sacrificed.’
    • ‘Medicine had conquered the dread infectious diseases that once cut swathes through entire populations.’
    • ‘We still suggest woolen hoods for the Fourth of July picnics, but you can open a window now without fear of dread contagion.’
    • ‘Second, compassion for gross suffering compels us to continue investigating genetic therapy for dread diseases.’
    • ‘If you're ready to live like a hermit for a while, you'll probably not be unlucky enough to catch the dread disease before it becomes widely known.’
    • ‘During the 15th century, a parasite in the wheat was causing a dread disease for which there was no cure.’
    • ‘Aging aside, lifestyle will go a long way toward determining whether you'll succumb to this dread disease.’
    • ‘While he may have settled into what we may define a ‘normal’ life, he forever lives in the dread fear that one day, he may wake up to find the fruit bandit has struck again.’
    • ‘He met the prognosis head on - and won his fight against the dread disease.’
    awful, feared, frightening, alarming, terrifying, frightful, terrible, horrible, dreadful, dire
    dreaded, awesome
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    1. 1.1archaic Regarded with awe; greatly revered.
      ‘that dread being we dare oppose’
      awe-inspiring, awesome, impressive, amazing
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Old English ādrǣdan, ondrǣdan; related to Old High German intrātan.