GC: n

S: MNT- (last access: 28 November 2020); HLN- (last access: 28 November 2020).

N: 1. “irrational fear, horror, or aversion; fear of an imaginary evil or undue fear of a real one,” 1786, perhaps based on a similar use in French, abstracted from compounds in -phobia, the word-forming element from Greek phobos “fear, panic fear, terror, outward show of fear; object of fear or terror,” originally “flight” (still the only sense in Homer), but it became the common word for “fear” via the notion of “panic flight” (compare phobein “put to flight; frighten”), from PIE root *bhegw- “to run” (source also of Lithuanian bėgu, bėgti “to flee;” Old Church Slavonic begu “flight,” bezati “to flee, run;” Old Norse bekkr “a stream”).
The psychological sense of “an abnormal or irrational fear” is attested by 1895. Hence also Phobos as the name of the inner satellite of Mars (discovered 1877) and named for Phobos, the personification of fear, in mythology a companion of Ares.
2. A persistent fear of a specific object, activity or situation … out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation that results in a compelling desire to avoid it.
3. People with phobias often have panic attacks. These can be very frightening and distressing. The symptoms often occur suddenly and without warning.
As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can cause physical symptoms, such as:

  • sweating
  • trembling
  • hot flushes or chills
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • a choking sensation
  • rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • pain or tightness in the chest
  • a sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • nausea
  • headaches and dizziness
  • feeling faint
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • a need to go to the toilet
  • ringing in your ears
  • confusion or disorientation

Psychological symptoms

In severe cases, you may also experience psychological symptoms, such as:

  • fear of losing control
  • fear of fainting
  • feelings of dread
  • fear of dying.

4. Phobias come in all shapes and sizes. Because there are an infinite number of objects and situations, the list of specific phobias is quite long.

According to the DSM, specific phobias typically fall within five general categories:

  • fears related to animals (spiders, dogs, insects)
  • fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness)
  • fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls)
  • fears related to specific situations (flying, riding an elevator, driving)
  • other (choking, loud noises, drowning).

5. People with a genetic predisposition to anxiety may be at high risk of developing a phobia. Age, socioeconomic status, and gender seem to be risk factors only for certain phobias. For example, women are more likely to have animal phobias. Children or people with a low socioeconomic status are more likely to have social phobias. Men make up the majority of those with dentist and doctor phobias.                                                                                                      

S: 1. OED – (last access: 28 November 2020). 2. TERMIUM PLUS- access: 28 November 2020). 3. NHS- (last access: 28 November 2020). 4.HLN- (last access: 28 November 2020). 5. HLN- (last access: 28 November 2020).


CR: arachnophobia, acrophobia, agoraphobia, algophobia, anxiety, belonephobia, blennophobia, claustrophobia, coulrophobia, emetophobia, erythrophobia, hemophobia, homophobia, hydrophobia, nomophobia, peniaphobia, xenophobia.