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Archive Language Point 108

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Fear vocabulary

Alice and Helen by the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Vocabulary of fear

We can talk about things that frighten us by using these words: scare, fright, terrify and fear.

To be scared/frightened/terrified of + noun
Alice is scared of heights.
He's frightened of spiders.
They're terrified of exams.

Passive form:
Heights scare Alice.
Dogs terrify me.
Loud noises always frighten him.

To get a fright
She gets a fright every time she hears a dog bark.
I got such a fright when I saw the mouse.

To have/have got a fear of + noun
I've a real fear of speaking in public.
He's got a fear of horses.


The word 'phobia' comes from the Greek for 'fear'. In English we can make words with the 'phobia' at the end to describe types of fears.

These phobias are nouns. "She suffers from arachnophobia. If she even sees a picture of a spider, she starts crying".

The noun to describe the person with a phobia is phobic. For example, "He can't go in lifts because he's claustrophobic".

fear of heights

fear of spiders

fear of open or public spaces

fear of closed or small spaces

We can also talk about people's prejudices in terms of what or who they are afraid of:

fear of homosexuals

fear of new things (especially technology)

fear of foreign people or people who are different from me

Expressions and idioms of fear

To talk about when something or someone gives you a fright, you can use these expressions:

To scare the living daylights out of someone
I thought I was the only one in the house so when he walked into the room, he scared the living daylights out of me.

To get the fright of your life
I got the fright of my life when she crept up behind me and shouted "Boo!"


style in which buildings are made

move slowly from side to side

fear of heights


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