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Language tip of the week: feeling frightened

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This set of language tips will explore the words and phrases we use to talk about feelings. This week’s tip looks at some adjectives and phrases that mean feeling frightened:



Frightened, afraid and scared all mean more or less the same. Afraid is never used before a noun. Scared is more informal than frightened and afraid, and it is not usually used before a noun.

frightened:
Don’t be frightened, I’m not going to hurt you. ♦ I’ve always been frightened of snakes. ♦ Since the attack he’s been frightened to go out alone. ♦ The puppy looked at him with frightened eyes.
afraid:
Everyone seems to be afraid of her. ♦ He’s afraid of the dark. ♦ She was afraid to go near the dog. ♦ I was afraid for my life.
scared:
Louis is scared of flying. ♦ I’d be too scared to do a parachute jump. ♦ I was scared you’d laugh at me.
scared stiff or scared to death extremely scared:
He’s scared stiff of needles. ♦ Everybody here is scared to death.
fearful feeling afraid and nervous about what might happen:
Fearful parents kept their children indoors. Fearful of another attack, civilians are fleeing the capital.
alarmed frightened or worried that something bad or dangerous might happen:
Don’t be alarmed, it wasn’t a serious accident. ♦ Politicians were alarmed at the prospect of a new wave of strikes.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more ways to say ‘feeling frightened‘.

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Liz Potter

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