Definition of hydrophobia in US English:



  • 1Extreme or irrational fear of water, especially as a symptom of rabies in humans.

    • ‘A variety of other clinical findings ensue, which may include anxiety, restlessness, hyperexcitability, hallucinations, dysphagia, and hydrophobia.’
    • ‘Salivation and thirst are great but the victim cannot swallow water because of throat muscle spasm hence the misnomer hydrophobia.’
    • ‘There's a stage of rabies where people develop hydrophobia, a bizarre and irrational fear of water.’
    • ‘Merely staring at the sea was enough to make her feel sick, her hydrophobia flaring.’
    • ‘It is specific for asthma and oppressed breathing, hiccup, whooping cough, spasmodic croup, tetanus, hydrophobia, hysteria paroxysms and hysterical convulsions.’
    insanity, insaneness, dementia, mental illness, derangement, dementedness, instability, unsoundness of mind, lunacy, distraction, depression, mania, hysteria, frenzy, psychosis, psychopathy, schizophrenia
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Rabies, especially in humans.
      • ‘To protect a healthy person forever from smallpox, hydrophobia, diptheria and so on, the doctor gives him those very diseases.’
      • ‘Rabies is also known as hydrophobia (fear of water).’
      • ‘Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.’
      • ‘Ain't that some incurable disease like hydrophobia?’
      • ‘Also well known is hydrophobia, literally ‘fear of water ‘, as a name for rabies, which sometimes appears to cause such a sensation in sufferers because it makes the throat swell and so it becomes difficult for the victim to swallow.’’


Late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek hudrophobia, from hudro- ‘water’ + phobos ‘fear’.