Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between the words ‘fear’ and ‘worry’


Word ‘fear’ vs word ‘worry’

What are the differences between the words ‘fear’ and ‘worry’? There may not seem to be much of a difference, because these two words can and often are used as synonyms. They both can mean to be very concerned about someone or something. When a person worries, they are thinking about their problems or fears, so it could be said that they fear their problems. A person is afraid because they worry something bad will happen. Both ‘fear’ and ‘worry’ are related to negative thoughts. For example: Pat worries about his dentist appointment because he is afraid of the dentist. It can be said that fear causes worry. In the example, because Pat has a fear of the dentist, he is worried about having to go see the dentist for an appointment. Clearly these two words can be used together, so they go hand in hand.


Although many people do use these words interchangeably, there are differences. ‘Fear’ means an unpleasant emotion that is caused by danger (used as a noun). When it as a verb it means to be afraid of something. ‘Worry’ as a noun, is the thought that something bad might happen and ‘to worry’ when used as a verb is to think it will happen. The definition differences are slight, and at first the difference may not be apparent. ‘Fear’ carries the idea of being scared by something, even to the point of terror. You are afraid of the dark or afraid of spiders. A person, who suffers from phobias, suffers from irrational fears of things like these. While ‘fear’ is a very strong emotion, ‘worry’ is a slightly milder emotion that indicates a thoughtful dread. You worry that you will be late for an appointment or worry that you will fail a test. It is technically incorrect in English to be worried about spiders, unless they are your pets and you are concerned about their welfare. Likewise, you are really not afraid of a test, you just don’t like taking tests and you think you will do poorly.

Another slight difference is the time frame involved in the use of each word. ‘Fear’ is a more immediate word. You are afraid of something, but once the experience is over, the fear passes. For example, I am afraid to get on that rollercoaster, so I will wait while you go on it alone. In this example, I am only afraid of the rollercoaster while the opportunity to ride it is there before me, once I decide to not ride it, I am no longer afraid anymore. Now when using ‘worry’, it implies a more long term feeling. A person worries about something in their mind for a longer period of time or persistently over and over again. For example, I worry about not being able to pay my bills, and that thought bothers me constantly.

The differences between these two emotion words, ‘fear’ and ‘worry’ are technical and sometimes overlooked. You will hear native English speakers in every-day conversation saying things like “I’m afraid I don’t know the way my friend’s house” or “I worry about sharks in the ocean”. It is unlikely that the speaker is terrified about not knowing the way to a friend’s house or has a constant dreadful thought about whether or not sharks are in the ocean. While the usage of these words in these examples is not really the intent of the speaker, the listener knows and understands the meaning intended. However this being said, it is always a good idea to try to use English words as correctly as possible to avoid miscommunication or misinformation.

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1 Comment

  1. Ofcourse fear and worry is difference. Fear is scare of something and worry is problem

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