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From Middle English dreden, from Old English drǣdan (to fear, dread), aphetic form of ādrǣdan, ondrǣdan (to fear, dread), from Proto-Germanic *andahrēdaną (to fear); corresponding to an aphesis of earlier adread. Akin to Old Saxon antdrādan, andrādan (to fear, dread), Old High German intrātan (to fear), Middle High German entrāten (to fear, dread, frighten).


  • enPR: drĕd, IPA(key): /dɹɛd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛd


dread (third-person singular simple present dreads, present participle dreading, simple past and past participle dreaded)

  1. (transitive) To fear greatly.
  2. To anticipate with fear.
    I'm dreading getting the results of the test, as it could decide my whole life.
    • 1877, Anna Sewell, Black Beauty Chapter 22[1]
      Day by day, hole by hole our bearing reins were shortened, and instead of looking forward with pleasure to having my harness put on as I used to do, I began to dread it.
  3. (intransitive) To be in dread, or great fear.
    • Bible, Deuteronomy i. 29
      Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
  4. (transitive) To style (the hair) into dreadlocks.

Derived termsEdit



dread (countable and uncountable, plural dreads)

  1. Great fear in view of impending evil; fearful apprehension of danger; anticipatory terror.
    • Tillotson
      the secret dread of divine displeasure
    • Shakespeare
      the dread of something after death
    • 2014 April 12, Michael Inwood, “Martin Heidegger: the philosopher who fell for Hitler [print version: Hitler's philosopher]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Review)[2], London, page R11:
      In 1928 [Martin] Heidegger succeeded [Edmund] Husserl to take a chair at Freiburg and in his inaugural lecture made a pronouncement that earned him a reputation as an archetypal metaphysician with his claim that our awareness of people as a whole depends on our experience of dread in the face of nothingness.
  2. Reverential or respectful fear; awe.
    • Bible, Genesis ix 2.
      The fear of you, and the dread of you, shall be upon every beast of the earth.
    • Shakespeare
      His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, / The attribute to awe and majesty, / Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
  3. Somebody or something dreaded.
  4. (obsolete) A person highly revered.
    • Spenser
      Una, his dear dread
  5. (obsolete) Fury; dreadfulness.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)
  6. A Rastafarian.
  7. (chiefly in the plural) dreadlock

Derived termsEdit



dread (comparative dreader, superlative dreadest)

  1. Terrible; greatly feared.
    • 1879, Arthur Sullivan, 'The Pirates of Penzance', Gilbert & Sullivan:
      With cat-like tread / Upon our prey we steal / In silence dread / Our cautious way we feel
  2. (archaic) Awe-inspiring; held in fearful awe.
    • 1633, John Hay, editor, The Acts Made in the First Parliament of our Most High and Dread Soveraigne Charles, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c.: Holden by Himselfe, Present in Person, with His Three Estates, at Edinburgh, upon the Twentie Eight Day of Iune, Anno Domini 1633, Edinburgh: Printed by Robert Young, printer to the Kings most excellent Maiestie, OCLC 606535094:
      The acts made in the first Parliament of our most high and dread soveraigne Charles [I], by the grace of God, King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, &c. [] [book title]

Derived termsEdit


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Alternative formsEdit


dread m (plural dreads)

  1. Clipping of dreadlock.