verb (fears, fearing, feared )
1 to be afraid of somebody or something:
We all fear illness and death.
It is more usual to say be afraid of or be frightened of somebody or something.
2 (formal) to feel that something bad might happen:
I fear we will be late.
II. fear2 W2 BrE AmE verb
[Word Family: noun: ↑fear, ↑fearfulness ≠ ↑fearlessness; adjective: ↑fearful ≠ ↑fearless, ↑fearsome; verb: ↑fear; adverb: ↑fearfully ≠ ↑fearlessly]
1. [intransitive and transitive] to feel afraid or worried that something bad may happen:
Fearing violence, the group asked for police protection.
Police fear that there may be further terrorist attacks.
fear to do something formal:
Women feared to go out at night.
fear for somebody
His wife seemed depressed, and he feared for his children.
fear for sb’s safety/life
a terrifying ordeal in which she feared for her life
Hundreds of people are feared dead in the ferry disaster.
2. fear the worst to think that the worst possible thing has happened or might happen:
When Tom heard about the accident he immediately feared the worst.
3. [transitive] to be afraid of someone and what they might do:
As a leader, he was distrusted and even feared.
4. I fear formal used when telling someone that you think that something bad has happened or is true
I fear (that)
I fear that there is little more we can do.
I fear so/I fear not
‘Were they satisfied?’ ‘I fear not.’
5. fear not/never fear formal used to tell someone not to worry:
Never fear, he’ll be with us soon.
1. transitive to be frightened of sb/sth or frightened of doing sth
• ~ sb/sth All his employees fear him.
• to fear death/persecution/the unknown
• Everyone feared the coming war.
• Don't worry, you have nothing to fear from us.
• ~ to do sth (formal) She feared to tell him the truth.
• ~ doing sth (formal) She feared going out at night.
2. transitive, intransitive to feel that sth bad might have happened or might happen in the future
• ~ sth She has been missing for three days now and police are beginning to fear the worst (= think that she is dead).
• ~ sb/sth + adj. Hundreds of people are feared dead.
• be feared to be/have sth Women and children are feared to be among the victims.
• it is feared (that)… It is feared (that) he may have been kidnapped.
• ~ (that)… She feared (that) he might be dead.
• Never fear/Fear not (= Don't worry), I shall return.
3. I fear intransitive (formal) used to tell sb that you think that sth bad has happened or is true
• They are unlikely to get here on time, I fear.
• ‘He must be dead then?’ ‘ I fear so.’
• ‘She's not coming back?’ ‘ I fear not.’
Old English fǣr ‘calamity, danger’, fǣran ‘frighten’, also ‘revere’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch gevaar and German Gefahr ‘danger’.
• Everyone rightly feared the coming war.
• He learned to fear and respect this force of nature.
• I have reason to fear that you might abuse your power.
• I really feared that this might be the end.
• This disease is greatly feared.
• We feared for their safety.
• You have nothing to fear from him.
• Don't worry, you have nothing to fear from us.
• Never fear/Fear not, I shall return.
• She has been missing for three days now and police are beginning to fear the worst.
• to fear death/danger/persecution
Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary - 4th Edition
fear / fɪə r / / fɪr / verb
B2 [ T; not continuous ] to be frightened of something or someone unpleasant:
Most older employees fear unemployment.
What do you fear most?
B2 [ T; not continuous ] formal to be worried or frightened that something bad might happen or might have happened:
[ + (that) ] Police fear (that) the couple may have drowned.
formal It is feared (that) as many as two hundred passengers may have died in the crash.
We huddled together, fearing we might be killed.
[ + to infinitive ] Fearing to go herself, she sent her son to find out the news.
I fear formal used to give someone news of something bad that has happened or might happen:
[ + (that) ] I fear (that) she's already left.
© Cambridge University Press 2013
fears, fearing, feared
1) N-VAR: oft N of n/-ing Fear is the unpleasant feeling you have when you think that you are in danger.
I was sitting on the floor shivering with fear because a bullet had been fired through a window.
...boyhood memories of sickness and fear of the dark...
London Zoo is running hypnosis programmes to help people overcome their fear of spiders.
2) VERB If you fear someone or something, you are frightened because you think that they will harm you.
[V n] It seems to me that if people fear you they respect you.
be afraid of
3) N-VAR: with supp, oft N of n/-ing, N that A fear is a thought that something unpleasant might happen or might have happened.
These youngsters are motivated not by a desire to achieve, but by fear of failure...
Then one day his worst fears were confirmed...
His fears might be groundless.
...the fear that once a war began it would soon pass beyond the ability of either side to manage it.
4) VERB If you fear something unpleasant or undesirable, you are worried that it might happen or might have happened.
[V that] She had feared she was going down with pneumonia or bronchitis...
[V n] More than two million refugees have fled the area, fearing attack by loyalist forces.
5) N-VAR: oft N that, N of n/-ing If you say that there is a fear that something unpleasant or undesirable will happen, you mean that you think it is possible or likely.
There was no fear that anything would be misunderstood...
There is a fear that the freeze on bank accounts could prove a lasting deterrent to investors.
6) VERB If you fear for someone or something, you are very worried because you think that they might be in danger.
[V for n] Carla fears for her son...
[V for n] He fled on Friday, saying he feared for his life.
7) N-VAR: N for n If you have fears for someone or something, you are very worried because you think that they might be in danger.
He also spoke of his fears for the future of his country's culture.
...fear for her own safety.
8) VERB If you fear to do something, you are afraid to do it or you do not wish to do it.
[V to-inf] She pursed her lips together, as though fearing to betray her news...
[V to-inf] Old people fear to leave their homes.
9) VERB You say that you fear that a situation is the case when the situation is unpleasant or undesirable, and when you want to express sympathy, sorrow, or regret about it. [FORMAL]
[V that] I fear that a land war now looks very probable...
[V so/not] `Is anything left at all?' - `I fear not.'
10) PHRASE: PHR n/-ing, usu v-link PHR, PHR after v If you are in fear of doing or experiencing something unpleasant or undesirable, you are very worried that you might have to do it or experience it.
The elderly live in fear of assault and murder.
11) PHRASE: PHR n/-ing, PHR with cl If you take a particular course of action for fear of something, you take the action in order to prevent that thing happening.
She was afraid to say anything to them for fear of hurting their feelings...
No one dared shoot for fear of hitting Pete.
12) PHRASE: usu PHR with cl You say `fear not' or `never fear' to someone when you are telling them not to worry or be frightened. [OLD-FASHIONED]
Fear not, Darlene will protect me...
You'll get the right training, never fear.
13) CONVENTION (emphasis) You use `no fear' to emphasize that you do not want to do something. [BRIT, INFORMAL]
When I asked him if he wanted to change his mind, William said `No fear.'
14) PHRASE: V inflects If someone or something puts the fear of God into you, they frighten or worry you, often deliberately.
At some time or other Eve had obviously put the fear of God into her.
2fear verb fears; feared; fear·ing
1 [+ obj] : to be afraid of (something or someone)
• She fears [=(more commonly) is afraid of] the water.
• He was a cruel king who was feared and hated by his subjects.
• “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address (1933) -
- sometimes followed by to + verb
• Many people feared to go out at night.
2 [+ obj] : to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)
• His parents feared (that) he would drop out of school.
• She went to her doctor, fearing (that) she might have cancer.
• The questions weren't as difficult as he had feared (they might be).
• When we heard there had been an accident, we feared the worst. [=we feared that the worst possible thing had happened]
✦The formal phrase I fear is used when you are worried that something bad or unpleasant has happened or is true.
• I fear that we're already too late.
• These problems have no easy solution, I fear.
3 [no obj] : to be afraid and worried
• There's no need to fear.
• Having problems with your computer? Never fear [=don't worry]—help is readily available.
• Fear not [=don't be afraid]—I'll protect you.
4 [+ obj] : to feel respect and wonder for something very powerful
• fear God
fear for [phrasal verb] fear for (something or someone) : to feel concern for (something or someone) : to worry about (something or someone)
• They feared for their lives [=they were afraid that they might be killed] as they felt the first trembles of the earthquake.
• She feared for her husband's safety. [=she worried that her husband might not be safe]