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 Dictionary entry overview: What does fearful mean? 

FEARFUL (adjective)
  The adjective FEARFUL has 5 senses:

1. causing fear or dread or terror
2. lacking courage; ignobly timid and faint-hearted
3. extremely distressing
4. timid by nature or revealing timidity
5. experiencing or showing fear

  Familiarity information: FEARFUL used as an adjective is common.

 Dictionary entry details 

FEARFUL (adjective)

Sense 1fearful [BACK TO TOP]


Causing fear or dread or terror


terrible; horrendous; frightening; fearsome; fearful; dreadful; dreaded; dread; direful; dire; horrific; awful

Context examples:

the awful war / an awful risk / dire news / a career or vengeance so direful that London was shocked / the dread presence of the headmaster / polio is no longer the dreaded disease it once was / a dreadful storm / a fearful howling / horrendous explosions shook the city / a terrible curse


alarming (causing alarm or fear)

Sense 2fearful [BACK TO TOP]


Lacking courage; ignobly timid and faint-hearted


cowardly; fearful

Context example:

cowardly dogs, ye will not aid me then


poor-spirited; pusillanimous; unmanly (lacking in courage and manly strength and resolution; contemptibly fearful)

poltroon (characterized by complete cowardliness)

funky (in a state of cowardly fright)

faint; faint-hearted; fainthearted; timid (lacking conviction or boldness or courage)

dastard; dastardly (treacherously cowardly)

craven; recreant (lacking even the rudiments of courage; abjectly fearful)

chicken; chickenhearted; lily-livered; white-livered; yellow; yellow-bellied (easily frightened)

caitiff (despicably mean and cowardly)


timid (showing fear and lack of confidence)

afraid (filled with fear or apprehension)

ignoble (completely lacking nobility in character or quality or purpose)


cowardice; cowardliness (the trait of lacking courage)

Sense 3fearful [BACK TO TOP]


Extremely distressing


fearful; frightful

Context examples:

fearful slum conditions / a frightful mistake


bad (having undesirable or negative qualities)

Sense 4fearful [BACK TO TOP]


Timid by nature or revealing timidity


trepid; timorous; fearful

Context examples:

timorous little mouse / in a timorous tone / cast fearful glances at the large dog


timid (showing fear and lack of confidence)

Sense 5fearful [BACK TO TOP]


Experiencing or showing fear

Context examples:

a fearful glance / fearful of criticism


afraid (filled with fear or apprehension)

 Learn English with... Proverbs of the week 
"You can't run with the hare and hunt with the hounds." (English proverb)

"Feed a dog to bark at you." (Bulgarian proverb)

"An egg-thief will become a horse-thief." (Armenian proverb)

"Bathe her and then look at her." (Egyptian proverb)

 FEARFUL: related words searches 

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