night-mare

nightmare

[nahyt-mair]
noun
1.
a terrifying dream in which the dreamer experiences feelings of helplessness, extreme anxiety, sorrow, etc.
2.
a condition, thought, or experience suggestive of a nightmare: the nightmare of his years in prison.
3.
(formerly) a monster or evil spirit believed to oppress persons during sleep.

Origin:
1250–1300; Middle English; see night, mare2


1. phantasmagoria. See dream.
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World English Dictionary
nightmare (ˈnaɪtˌmɛə)
 
n
1.  a terrifying or deeply distressing dream
2.  a.  an event or condition resembling a terrifying dream: the nightmare of shipwreck
 b.  (as modifier): a nightmare drive
3.  a thing that is feared
4.  (formerly) an evil spirit supposed to harass or suffocate sleeping people
 
[C13 (meaning: incubus; C16: bad dream): from night + Old English mare, mære evil spirit, from Germanic; compare Old Norse mara incubus, Polish zmora, French cauchemar nightmare]
 
'nightmarish
 
adj
 
'nightmarishly
 
adv
 
'nightmarishness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

nightmare
late 13c., "an evil female spirit afflicting sleepers with a feeling of suffocation," compounded from night + mare "goblin that causes nightmares, incubus," from O.E. mare "incubus," from mera, mære, from P.Gmc. *maron "goblin," from PIE *mora- "incubus," from base *mer- "to rub away, harm, seize"
(cf. first element in O.Ir. Morrigain "demoness of the corpses," lit. "queen of the nightmare," also Bulg., Serb., Pol. mora "incubus;" Fr. cauchemar, with first element is from O.Fr. caucher "to trample"). Meaning shifted mid-16c. from the incubus to the suffocating sensation it causes. Sense of "any bad dream" first recorded 1829; that of "very distressing experience" is from 1831.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

nightmare night·mare (nīt'mâr')
n.

  1. A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress.

  2. An event or experience that is intensely distressing.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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