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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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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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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Example sentences
They had fewer nightmares and flashbacks in their daily lives long after the
  effects of the drug had worn off.
We all have nightmares in which no one ever asks a question, though usually
  someone finally does.
Daytime realities are almost never as bad as nightmares.
It amputates limbs, reconstructs faces, and brings nightmares that recede with
  time but never really go away.
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