Definition of terror in English:

terror

noun

  • 1Extreme fear.

    ‘people fled in terror’
    in singular ‘a terror of darkness’
    • ‘A victim of nuisance youths has described how he waits in terror for what they will do next.’
    • ‘All I can say to the boys is that our obligation lies in helping others, in grieving, and in refusing to live in terror.’
    • ‘Arsonists torched a town-centre bar, causing residents in nearby houses to flee in terror.’
    • ‘He awoke in terror, thinking he was in a tunnel that had collapsed.’
    • ‘The humiliation of not being able to swim was bad, of course - but the terror of taking my feet off the bottom was far, far worse.’
    • ‘Sharing the terror of a close call and then the euphoria of survival is an experience that binds for a lifetime.’
    • ‘For months, he lived in terror of the secret police knocking at his door.’
    • ‘He was utterly exhausted, and the terror of the last few hours had finally caught up with him.’
    • ‘A lorry driver who got out of his cab to remonstrate with a motorist fled in terror when the man produced a gun, a court heard.’
    • ‘Suddenly Vanga asked whether there was someone else in the room and I froze in terror.’
    • ‘Witnesses described seeing office staff fleeing in terror from the scene when the siege began at 10 am.’
    • ‘She flies inside in terror, trembling all over, and that day decides to put back the curtain.’
    • ‘In fact, it's surprising how little you notice when you've got your eyes firmly shut and you're screaming in terror.’
    • ‘I have lived those years both in dread of attending the party and in terror of missing it.’
    • ‘No longer in control of his own body, facing mortality, he had plenty of reason for terror.’
    • ‘The original house was built on an ancient graveyard and its last owner is rumoured to have fled in terror at the ghostly goings on.’
    • ‘We are told that rural communities live in terror of crime and it might be true.’
    • ‘Fearing a curse, the townspeople fled in terror as soon as the weather broke.’
    • ‘Each time I turned in terror to look back I nearly jumped out of my skin anticipating what I might see.’
    • ‘Every single day and night we had to sit in terror of the next bomb, the next plane, the next explosion.’
    extreme fear, dread, horror, fear and trembling, fright, trepidation, alarm, panic, shock
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The use of terror to intimidate people, especially for political reasons; terrorism.
      ‘weapons of terror’
      • ‘You don't use weapons of terror on people you are intending to liberate.’
      • ‘An armed robber who waged a campaign of terror against businesses in Manchester has been jailed for life.’
      • ‘Their job was to secure public order through terror, intimidation and violence.’
      • ‘They attacked free settlers and used terror to intimidate those opposed to slavery.’
      • ‘We are confronting the nexus between terror and weapons of mass destruction.’
      • ‘Political repression and state terror have also been shown to result in significant psychological sequelae.’
      • ‘Elderly residents in a Maldon street have been driven to the brink of despair by yobs who they say have subjected them to a campaign of terror.’
      • ‘A phoney secret agent and his wife are in custody awaiting sentence for their campaign of terror against a family.’
      • ‘Is the government complicit in this campaign of violence and terror?’
      • ‘Our best chance of marginalising those who deal in terror is to retain our humanity while responding to their inhumanity.’
      • ‘Several documents reflected the terror of the late 1930s and are in the form of denunciations.’
      • ‘The Prime Minister pledged to do all that was necessary to root out the criminal minority behind the campaign of terror.’
      • ‘There will no doubt be other successes which we can't know about yet because they are part of the ongoing campaign against terror.’
      • ‘The reasons for eliminating terror are clear, and speak to simple self-preservation.’
      • ‘A schoolboy was today behind bars for subjecting a family to a campaign of terror and intimidation.’
      • ‘From the very outset all the combatants knew that the bomb would be both a weapon of destruction and a weapon of terror.’
      • ‘The many fundamental reasons that people resort to terror remain unaddressed’
      • ‘Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.’
      • ‘Swindon magistrates heard they had waged a campaign of terror in the past six months, causing mayhem for shoppers and staff.’
      • ‘Their goal is simply to cause terror without a justified reason.’
    2. 1.2in singular A person or thing that causes extreme fear.
      ‘his unyielding scowl became the terror of the Chicago mob’
      • ‘Bumped into old East Londoner Peter Dyter - a second year who was the terror of Merriman new boys.’
      • ‘They were the terrors of every 7 - Eleven parking lot, the most feared guests at every house party.’
      • ‘At nineteen, Jeremiah McAuley was a thief and the terror of the New York waterfront.’
      demon, fiend, devil, monster
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    3. 1.3the Terror The period of the French Revolution between mid 1793 and July 1794 when the ruling Jacobin faction, dominated by Robespierre, ruthlessly executed anyone considered a threat to their regime.
      Also called "Reign of Terror"
  • 2informal A person, especially a child, who causes trouble or annoyance.

    ‘placid and obedient in their parents' presence, but holy terrors when left alone’
    • ‘The three Mexican terrors know and respect the Belfast man, who lives and trains in the boxing crossroads of Las Vegas.’
    • ‘Parents will also be sent home with a relaxation tape to help them unwind after a stressful day with their teenage terrors.’
    • ‘If you believe children should be seen and not heard, it may be best to avoid visiting during the school holidays - when tiny terrors abound.’
    • ‘As a public service, here are some bright ideas to keep those tiny tot terrors away.’
    • ‘Colin and I were from totally different upbringings but we really clicked and we were both just little terrors.’
    • ‘Thankfully, my own little terrors decided to play fair on New Year's Day and let me have a bit of a lie-in until 8.45 am.’
    • ‘They are the touchline terrors whose aggression and foul language is matched only by the players on the pitch.’
    • ‘When everyone was done, and the two little terrors had both used the rest room, we went back to the RV and set off again.’
    rascal, devil, imp, monkey, wretch, scamp, mischief-maker, troublemaker
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • have (or hold) no terrors for someone

    • Not frighten or worry someone.

      • ‘Giovanna's coloratura holds no terrors for her, and the assurance of her technique - every note is hit dead on - is matched only by her assured interpretation.’
      • ‘True, it's one of Verdi's most demanding tenor parts, but the notes obviously hold no terrors for Licitra.’
      • ‘Other than minor episodes like this, nighttime holds no terrors for them.’
      • ‘The open pan of the valley had no terrors for us in daylight.’
      • ‘Of course I'm concerned about getting it right, but it holds no terrors for me because I have played Lear, and Lear is the most difficult of all.’
      • ‘So taking the Kildare job really held no terrors for Nolan?’
      • ‘This gruelling three and a half miles will hold no terrors for Scotton Green, who gave notice that his winning turn was near at Catterick last month when he chased home Ballystone.’
      • ‘A former high-class hurdler, Deep Water has always looked as though fences would hold no terrors for him.’
      • ‘Prokofiev's daunting cluster chords and rapid fire pianistic flourishes held no terrors for her.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French terrour, from Latin terror, from terrere ‘frighten’.

Pronunciation

terror

/ˈterər//ˈtɛrər/