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[uh-freyd] /əˈfreɪd/
feeling fear; filled with apprehension:
afraid to go.
feeling regret, unhappiness, or the like:
I'm afraid we can't go on Monday.
feeling reluctance, unwillingness, distaste, or the like:
He seemed afraid to show his own children a little kindness.
Origin of afraid
variant spelling of affrayed, past participle of affray to disturb, frighten
Related forms
half-afraid, adjective
unafraid, adjective
1. scared, fearful, disquieted, apprehensive, timid, timorous. Afraid, alarmed, frightened, terrified all indicate a state of fear. Afraid implies inner apprehensive disquiet: afraid of the dark. Alarmed implies that the feelings are aroused through realization of some imminent or unexpected danger to oneself or others: alarmed by (or about ) someone's illness. Frightened means shocked with sudden, but usually short-lived, fear, especially that arising from apprehension of physical harm: frightened by an accident. Terrified suggests the emotional reaction when one is struck with a violent, overwhelming fear: terrified by an earthquake.
1. bold, confident, fearless. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for afraid
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was a Pole, she had been trained in a hard school, she was not afraid.

    The Destroyer Burton Egbert Stevenson
  • Philothea has glided from the apartment, as if afraid to remain in my presence.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • Guide my arm and my heart and don't let me be afraid to die or to make her die.

    In a Little Town Rupert Hughes
  • She saw me in the yacht, only once; she knew me; she was afraid.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • For the first time in her life she was afraid and thoroughly unnerved.

    Janet of the Dunes Harriet T. Comstock
British Dictionary definitions for afraid


adjective (postpositive)
(often foll by of) feeling fear or apprehension; frightened: he was afraid of cats
reluctant (to do something), as through fear or timidity: he was afraid to let himself go
often foll by that; used to lessen the effect of an unpleasant statement. regretful: I'm afraid that I shall have to tell you to go
Word Origin
C14: affraied, past participle of affray (to frighten)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for afraid

early 14c., originally past participle of afray "frighten," from Anglo-French afrayer, from Old French esfreer (see affray (n.)). A rare case of an English adjective that never stands before a noun. Because it was used in A.V. Bible, it acquired independent standing and thrived while affray faded, chasing out the once more common afeared. Sense in I'm afraid "I regret to say, I suspect" (without implication of fear) is first recorded 1590s.

Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone [Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes," 1820]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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