Top 59 Slang For Fear – Meaning & Usage

Fear, a powerful emotion that can consume and paralyze us, is something we all experience at some point in our lives. But did you know that there are slang words and phrases that people use to describe this feeling? From “scaredy-cat” to “chicken-hearted,” we’ve compiled a list of the top slang for fear that will have you feeling both intrigued and entertained. So get ready to explore the colorful language we use to express our deepest anxieties and discover new ways to describe that spine-tingling sensation.

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1. Fraidy cat

This term is used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It is often used in a playful or teasing manner.

  • For example, a person might say, “Don’t be such a fraidy cat, it’s just a harmless spider.”
  • In a scary movie, one character might say to another, “Are you too much of a fraidy cat to watch this?”
  • A parent might tease their child by saying, “Are you afraid of the dark? Don’t be a fraidy cat!”

2. Scardy cat

Similar to “fraidy cat,” this term is another way to describe someone who is easily scared or lacks bravery. It is often used in a light-hearted or mocking manner.

  • For instance, a person might say, “You’re such a scardy cat, it’s just a loud noise.”
  • In a haunted house, a friend might playfully taunt another by saying, “Don’t be a scardy cat, it’s all fake!”
  • A sibling might tease their brother or sister by saying, “Are you scared? Scardy cat!”

3. Pansy

This term is used to describe someone who is perceived as weak or lacking in courage. It is often used in a derogatory or insulting manner.

  • For example, a person might say, “He’s such a pansy, he never stands up for himself.”
  • In a sports competition, a player might insult their opponent by saying, “You’re a pansy, you can’t handle the pressure.”
  • A group of friends might tease each other by saying, “Don’t be a pansy, it’s just a little jump!”

4. Wimp

This term is used to describe someone who is seen as lacking strength or bravery. It is often used in a derogatory or mocking manner.

  • For instance, a person might say, “He’s such a wimp, he’s afraid of his own shadow.”
  • In a challenging situation, one person might insult another by saying, “You’re such a wimp, you can’t handle it.”
  • Friends might playfully tease each other by saying, “Don’t be a wimp, it’s just a small spider!”

5. Wimpy

Similar to “wimp,” this term is used to describe someone or something as lacking courage or strength. It is often used in a light-hearted or teasing manner.

  • For example, a person might say, “That’s a wimpy excuse, you’re just scared.”
  • In a competition, one participant might mock another by saying, “You’re so wimpy, you won’t even try.”
  • Friends might playfully tease each other by saying, “Don’t be so wimpy, it’s just a little challenge!”

6. Sissy

Sissy is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is perceived as weak or lacking courage. It is often used to mock or belittle someone for showing fear or vulnerability.

  • For example, a bully might taunt, “Don’t be such a sissy, stand up for yourself!”
  • A person might say, “I’m not a sissy, I just prefer to avoid dangerous situations.”
  • In a conversation about facing fears, someone might admit, “I used to be a sissy, but I’ve learned to overcome my fears.”

7. Wuss

Wuss is a slang term used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It is often used to tease or criticize someone for being timid or afraid.

  • For instance, a friend might playfully say, “Don’t be a wuss, it’s just a little spider!”
  • In a discussion about extreme sports, someone might comment, “Only wusses would be too scared to try skydiving.”
  • A person might admit, “I used to be a wuss, but I’ve been working on facing my fears.”

8. Wussy

Wussy is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is perceived as weak or easily frightened. It is often used to mock or insult someone for their lack of courage or bravery.

  • For example, a person might say, “Don’t be such a wussy, it’s just a little thunderstorm.”
  • In a conversation about confronting fears, someone might comment, “I used to be a wussy, but I’ve learned to be more courageous.”
  • A friend might jokingly say, “You’re such a wussy, I can’t believe you’re scared of clowns!”

9. Chicken

Chicken is a slang term used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It is often used to tease or mock someone for being afraid or hesitant.

  • For instance, a friend might say, “Don’t be a chicken, it’s just a haunted house!”
  • In a discussion about facing fears, someone might comment, “I used to be a chicken, but I’ve learned to be braver.”
  • A person might admit, “I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to heights.”

10. Yellow-bellied

Yellow-bellied is a slang term used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It is often used to criticize or mock someone for their perceived timidity or fearfulness.

  • For example, a person might say, “Don’t be yellow-bellied, it’s just a little thunder.”
  • In a conversation about facing fears, someone might comment, “I used to be yellow-bellied, but I’ve learned to be more courageous.”
  • A friend might jokingly say, “You’re such a yellow-bellied coward, I can’t believe you’re scared of spiders!”

11. Soft

This term is often used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It implies a lack of toughness or resilience.

  • For example, in a sports context, someone might say, “He’s too soft to play in this league.”
  • In a discussion about facing challenges, one might comment, “Don’t be soft, take risks and embrace the unknown.”
  • A person teasing a friend might say, “You’re too soft to watch a horror movie!”

12. Coward

This term is used to describe someone who lacks bravery or courage. It is often used as an insult or derogatory term.

  • For instance, one might say, “He ran away like a coward when things got tough.”
  • In a discussion about standing up for oneself, someone might comment, “Don’t be a coward, speak up and defend your rights.”
  • A person teasing a friend might say, “You’re such a coward, you won’t even go on a rollercoaster!”

13. Scaredy cat

This term is used to describe someone who is easily frightened or afraid of taking risks. It is often used in a playful or teasing manner.

  • For example, one might say, “Don’t be such a scaredy cat, it’s just a spider.”
  • In a discussion about facing fears, someone might comment, “Even scaredy cats can overcome their fears with a little courage.”
  • A person teasing a friend might say, “You’re such a scaredy cat, you jump at every little noise!”

14. Chicken-hearted

This term is used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It implies a weak or timid nature.

  • For instance, one might say, “He’s too chicken-hearted to confront his fears.”
  • In a discussion about taking risks, someone might comment, “Don’t be chicken-hearted, embrace new experiences and challenges.”
  • A person teasing a friend might say, “You’re so chicken-hearted, you won’t even go on a haunted house ride!”

15. Yellow

This term is used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It implies a lack of bravery or resilience.

  • For example, one might say, “He’s yellow, always backing down from a fight.”
  • In a discussion about facing fears, someone might comment, “Don’t be yellow, stand up for yourself and face your fears.”
  • A person teasing a friend might say, “You’re so yellow, you won’t even go near a spider!”

16. Jellyfish

This term is used to describe someone who is easily frightened or lacks courage. It compares the person to a jellyfish, which is known for its soft and spineless nature.

  • For example, in a scary movie, someone might say, “Don’t be such a jellyfish, it’s just a jump scare.”
  • A person might tease a friend by saying, “You’re such a jellyfish, you can’t even handle a little spider.”
  • In a discussion about facing fears, someone might say, “It’s important to overcome your jellyfish tendencies and be brave.”

17. Baby

This term is used to describe someone who is easily scared or fearful. It compares the person to a baby, who is often associated with vulnerability and dependency.

  • For instance, if someone is afraid of the dark, they might be called a “baby.”
  • A person might say, “Don’t be such a scaredy-cat, it’s just a harmless prank.”
  • In a conversation about facing fears, someone might encourage another by saying, “Don’t be a baby, you can do it!”

18. Nervous Nellie

This term is used to describe someone who is constantly worried or anxious. It emphasizes the person’s nervous nature and tendency to overthink.

  • For example, if someone is always fretting about the smallest things, they might be called a “nervous Nellie.”
  • A person might say, “You don’t need to be a nervous Nellie, everything will be fine.”
  • In a discussion about handling stress, someone might advise, “Try not to be such a nervous Nellie, take things one step at a time.”

19. Frightened rabbit

This term is used to describe someone who is easily scared or lacks confidence. It compares the person to a frightened rabbit, which is known for its skittish behavior.

  • For instance, if someone jumps at every little noise, they might be called a “frightened rabbit.”
  • A person might say, “Don’t be a frightened rabbit, it’s just a thunderstorm.”
  • In a conversation about building self-confidence, someone might encourage another by saying, “Don’t be a frightened rabbit, believe in yourself!”

20. Shaky

This term is used to describe someone who is physically or emotionally unstable due to fear or anxiety. It emphasizes the person’s trembling or unsteady demeanor.

  • For example, if someone’s hands are shaking before a big presentation, they might be described as “shaky.”
  • A person might say, “I could tell she was feeling shaky before the roller coaster ride.”
  • In a discussion about managing nerves, someone might share, “Taking deep breaths helps me calm down when I’m feeling shaky.”

21. Scaredy-cat

This term is used to describe someone who is easily frightened or afraid of taking risks. It is often used in a lighthearted or teasing manner.

  • For example, a friend might say, “Don’t be such a scaredy-cat, it’s just a little spider.”
  • In a playful argument, someone might say, “I bet you won’t do it, you’re such a scaredy-cat.”
  • A parent might use the term to encourage their child to be brave, saying, “You’re not a scaredy-cat, you can do it!”

22. Jittery

This word describes a state of nervousness or unease, often accompanied by trembling or fidgeting. It can be used to describe both physical and emotional anxiety.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I always get jittery before a big presentation.”
  • In a stressful situation, a person might comment, “I’m feeling really jittery right now.”
  • A friend might ask, “Why are you so jittery? Is something bothering you?”

23. Spooked

When someone is “spooked,” it means they have been surprised or frightened by something unexpected. The term can also be used to describe a feeling of unease or suspicion.

  • For example, someone might say, “I got spooked when I heard a noise in the middle of the night.”
  • If a person is on edge after a scary movie, they might say, “I’m still feeling a bit spooked.”
  • A friend might ask, “What spooked you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

24. Freaked out

To “freak out” means to become extremely scared or panicked. It is often used to describe a strong emotional reaction to a frightening or shocking event.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I freaked out when I saw a snake in my backyard.”
  • If a person is overwhelmed with fear, they might comment, “I’m freaking out right now, I can’t handle this.”
  • A friend might ask, “Why are you freaking out? Take a deep breath and calm down.”

25. Terrified

When someone is “terrified,” it means they are extremely frightened or filled with terror. It conveys a sense of intense fear and dread.

  • For example, a person might say, “I was terrified when I heard a loud noise in the middle of the night.”
  • If someone is scared to the point of being frozen with fear, they might comment, “I was absolutely terrified, I couldn’t move.”
  • A friend might ask, “What happened to make you so terrified? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

26. Petrified

To be completely paralyzed with fear, often to the point of being unable to move or speak. “Petrified” is an extreme form of fear.

  • For example, someone might say, “I was petrified when I saw a snake slithering towards me.”
  • In a horror movie, a character might be described as “petrified with fear” when facing a terrifying monster.
  • A person recounting a scary experience might say, “I was petrified when I heard footsteps outside my window in the middle of the night.”

27. Shook

To be deeply affected or disturbed by something, often causing fear or anxiety. “Shook” is a slang term used to describe a strong emotional reaction.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I was shook when I heard about the earthquake in my hometown.”
  • When encountering a dangerous situation, a person might exclaim, “I’m shook, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
  • A person describing a shocking event might say, “I was completely shook by what I witnessed.”

28. Panicky

To feel overwhelmed by fear or anxiety, often resulting in a loss of control or rational thinking. “Panicky” describes a state of extreme unease.

  • For example, someone might say, “I felt panicky when I realized I was lost in a dark forest.”
  • In a stressful situation, a person might start to panic and say, “I can’t breathe, I’m feeling so panicky right now.”
  • A person describing a fear of heights might say, “Whenever I’m near a tall building, I start to feel panicky and dizzy.”

29. Frightened

To feel fear or apprehension, often in response to a perceived threat or danger. “Frightened” is a general term for experiencing fear.

  • For instance, someone might say, “I was frightened by the loud thunder during the storm.”
  • When watching a horror movie, a person might cover their eyes and say, “I’m so frightened, I can’t watch this anymore.”
  • A person describing a close encounter with a wild animal might say, “I was frightened when I came face to face with a bear in the woods.”

30. Anxious

To feel uneasy or apprehensive, often accompanied by a sense of impending danger or trouble. “Anxious” describes a state of heightened nervousness.

  • For example, someone might say, “I feel anxious before a big presentation at work.”
  • When waiting for important news, a person might feel anxious and say, “I can’t stop thinking about it, I’m so anxious.”
  • A person describing a fear of flying might say, “I always get anxious before getting on an airplane.”

31. Nervous wreck

This phrase describes someone who is feeling extremely anxious or nervous.

  • For example, “Before the big presentation, I was a nervous wreck.”
  • A person might say, “I’m a nervous wreck every time I have to fly.”
  • Another might exclaim, “I’m a nervous wreck before every job interview!”

32. Quaking in your boots

This phrase is used to describe someone who is extremely scared or afraid.

  • For instance, “When I saw the spider, I was quaking in my boots.”
  • A person might say, “I was quaking in my boots during the horror movie.”
  • Another might exclaim, “The thought of public speaking has me quaking in my boots!”

33. Shivering in your timbers

This phrase is a play on words, combining the idea of shivering with the phrase “shiver me timbers” often associated with pirates. It means to feel intense fear or fright.

  • For example, “The haunted house had me shivering in my timbers.”
  • A person might say, “The scary movie had me shivering in my timbers.”
  • Another might exclaim, “The thought of swimming with sharks has me shivering in my timbers!”

34. Scared stiff

This phrase describes someone who is extremely frightened or scared.

  • For instance, “The loud noise scared me stiff.”
  • A person might say, “I was scared stiff during the thunderstorm.”
  • Another might exclaim, “The horror movie had me scared stiff!”

35. Creeped out

This phrase describes the feeling of being uneasy or uncomfortable, often due to something strange or unsettling.

  • For example, “The abandoned house gave me the creeps.”
  • A person might say, “I was creeped out by the strange noises in the basement.”
  • Another might exclaim, “The horror movie left me feeling totally creeped out!”

36. Hair-raising

This term is used to describe something that is extremely frightening or chilling. It refers to a situation or experience that causes one’s hair to stand on end due to fear or intense emotions.

  • For example, “That horror movie was so hair-raising, I couldn’t sleep for days.”
  • A person might say, “Walking alone in the dark alley was a hair-raising experience.”
  • Another might describe a thrilling roller coaster ride as “hair-raising.”
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37. Heart-pounding

This phrase describes a feeling of fear or excitement that causes one’s heart to beat rapidly and forcefully. It signifies a strong emotional response to a frightening or exhilarating situation.

  • For instance, “The suspenseful scene in the movie had my heart pounding.”
  • A person might say, “Jumping out of a plane for the first time was a heart-pounding experience.”
  • Another might describe a close call in a dangerous situation as “heart-pounding.”

38. White-knuckled

This term describes a state of extreme anxiety or fear that causes one to grip something tightly, such as the steering wheel of a car, to the point where their knuckles turn white. It indicates a sense of tension and apprehension.

  • For example, “Driving in heavy traffic can be a white-knuckled experience.”
  • A person might say, “Walking on a narrow cliff edge made me feel white-knuckled.”
  • Another might describe a terrifying plane turbulence as “white-knuckled.”

39. Goosebumps

This term refers to the small raised bumps that appear on one’s skin, typically caused by a sudden feeling of fear, cold, or excitement. It is used to describe a sensation of intense fear or discomfort.

  • For instance, “That ghost story gave me goosebumps.”
  • A person might say, “Watching a horror movie alone at night always gives me goosebumps.”
  • Another might describe a creepy encounter as “giving them goosebumps.”

40. Chills down your spine

This phrase describes a feeling of intense fear or discomfort that is often accompanied by a shiver or a sensation of coldness running down one’s back. It signifies a spine-tingling and unsettling experience.

  • For example, “The haunted house gave me chills down my spine.”
  • A person might say, “Listening to that chilling ghost story sent chills down my spine.”
  • Another might describe a mysterious and unsettling event as “giving them chills down their spine.”
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41. Nightmares

Nightmares are vivid and disturbing dreams that can cause fear, anxiety, and distress. They often involve intense emotions and can wake a person up from sleep.

  • For example, “I had a nightmare last night about being chased by a monster.”
  • A person might say, “I’m afraid to go to sleep because I keep having nightmares.”
  • Another might admit, “Sometimes my nightmares feel so real that I wake up sweating and scared.”

42. Yellow-belly

This slang term is used to describe someone who is easily scared or lacks courage. It implies that the person’s fear is so intense that it makes them physically weak, as if their belly turned yellow.

  • For instance, “Don’t be such a yellow-belly, stand up for yourself!”
  • A person might say, “I can’t believe he ran away when things got tough. What a yellow-belly.”
  • Another might comment, “I’m not a yellow-belly, I just prefer to avoid dangerous situations.”

43. Jumpy

When someone is jumpy, it means they are easily frightened or startled. They may be on edge or constantly on the lookout for potential dangers.

  • For example, “The loud noise made me jumpy and I jumped out of my seat.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve been feeling really jumpy lately, like something bad is about to happen.”
  • Another might admit, “I get jumpy when I’m walking alone at night.”

44. Paranoid

Paranoia is a state of mind characterized by excessive and irrational distrust or suspicion of others. When someone is paranoid, they often believe that others are out to harm or deceive them.

  • For instance, “He’s constantly checking his phone because he’s paranoid that his partner is cheating.”
  • A person might say, “I know it’s just my paranoia, but I feel like someone is watching me.”
  • Another might comment, “She’s become so paranoid that she can’t trust anyone anymore.”

45. Timid

When someone is timid, they are hesitant or fearful in social situations. They may lack self-assurance and be reluctant to take risks or assert themselves.

  • For example, “She’s too timid to speak up in class, even when she knows the answer.”
  • A person might say, “I wish I wasn’t so timid, it holds me back from pursuing my goals.”
  • Another might comment, “His timid nature makes it difficult for him to make new friends.”

46. Startled

When someone is startled, they are caught off guard or surprised by something unexpected.

  • For example, “I was startled when the cat jumped out from behind the couch.”
  • Another usage could be, “She was startled by the loud noise outside.”
  • A person might say, “Don’t sneak up on me like that, you startled me!”

47. Horrified

When someone is horrified, they are extremely shocked or disgusted by something.

  • For instance, “I was horrified when I saw the crime scene.”
  • Another example could be, “She was horrified by the graphic images in the movie.”
  • A person might say, “I’m horrified by the thought of spiders crawling on me!”

48. Dreadful

When something is described as dreadful, it is extremely unpleasant or causes a sense of fear or dread.

  • For example, “The storm outside was absolutely dreadful.”
  • Another usage could be, “He had a dreadful feeling in the pit of his stomach.”
  • A person might say, “I had a dreadful nightmare last night.”

49. Intimidated

When someone feels intimidated, they are fearful or overwhelmed by someone or something.

  • For instance, “I felt intimidated by the large crowd.”
  • Another example could be, “She was intimidated by her boss’s authoritative presence.”
  • A person might say, “Don’t be intimidated by the challenge, you can do it!”

50. Paranoia

Paranoia refers to an excessive or irrational fear or suspicion of others.

  • For example, “He’s always looking over his shoulder, constantly plagued by paranoia.”
  • Another usage could be, “She has paranoia about germs and is constantly washing her hands.”
  • A person might say, “I can’t shake this feeling of paranoia, like someone is watching me.”

51. Phobia

A phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or activity. It goes beyond normal fear or discomfort and can cause significant distress or anxiety.

  • For example, someone with arachnophobia might have an intense fear of spiders.
  • A person with claustrophobia might experience extreme anxiety in small, enclosed spaces.
  • A fear of heights, known as acrophobia, can cause panic and avoidance of tall buildings or high places.
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52. Hesitant

When someone is hesitant, they are unsure or reluctant to take action or make a decision. It can stem from fear, doubt, or a lack of confidence.

  • For instance, a person might be hesitant to try a new activity because they are afraid of failure.
  • A student might be hesitant to ask a question in class because they fear being judged.
  • In a job interview, a candidate might be hesitant to answer a difficult question.

53. Apprehensive

Apprehensive describes a state of anxiety or worry about something that may happen in the future. It often involves a sense of fear or unease.

  • For example, someone might feel apprehensive before a big presentation at work.
  • A person might be apprehensive about flying due to a fear of turbulence or heights.
  • Before a medical procedure, a patient might feel apprehensive about the potential pain or discomfort.

54. Cautious

Being cautious means being careful and taking steps to avoid danger or harm. It can stem from fear or a desire to prevent negative outcomes.

  • For instance, a cautious driver follows traffic laws and avoids risky maneuvers.
  • A person might be cautious about sharing personal information online due to fear of identity theft.
  • In a new relationship, someone might be cautious about opening up emotionally to avoid getting hurt.

55. Uneasy

When someone feels uneasy, they experience a sense of discomfort, anxiety, or unease. It can be a result of fear, uncertainty, or a feeling that something is not right.

  • For example, a person might feel uneasy walking alone at night in an unfamiliar area.
  • A student might feel uneasy before a test if they didn’t study enough.
  • In a tense situation, such as an argument, someone might feel uneasy due to the conflict.

56. Quaking in one’s boots

This phrase describes someone who is so scared that their legs are shaking uncontrollably. It emphasizes the physical manifestation of fear.

  • For example, “When I heard the thunder, I was quaking in my boots.”
  • A person might say, “The thought of giving a presentation in front of a large audience makes me quake in my boots.”
  • Another might exclaim, “The horror movie was so terrifying, it had me quaking in my boots the entire time.”

57. Heart pounding

This phrase refers to the sensation of one’s heart beating rapidly due to fear or excitement. It conveys the intense emotional and physical response to a fearful situation.

  • For instance, “As I approached the edge of the cliff, my heart was pounding.”
  • A person might say, “When I saw the car swerve in front of me, my heart started pounding.”
  • Another might describe a scary movie by saying, “The suspenseful scenes had my heart pounding throughout the entire film.”

58. Cold sweat

This phrase describes the physical reaction of sweating when feeling fearful or anxious. It suggests a sudden and intense reaction to a frightening situation.

  • For example, “As I waited for the test results, I broke out in a cold sweat.”
  • A person might say, “When I saw the spider crawling towards me, I immediately broke into a cold sweat.”
  • Another might describe a terrifying experience by saying, “The haunted house was so scary, it gave me chills and a cold sweat.”

59. Chills down one’s spine

This phrase describes the sensation of feeling shivers or tingling down one’s spine when experiencing fear. It suggests a spine-tingling reaction to something frightening.

  • For instance, “When I heard the ghostly whisper, it sent chills down my spine.”
  • A person might say, “Walking alone in the dark alley gave me chills down my spine.”
  • Another might describe a creepy encounter by saying, “The sight of the abandoned house sent chills down my spine.”