Fearful vs. fearsome

To be fearful is (1) to be frightened, or (2) to be inclined to anxiety or fear. The word also works as a colloquial adjective meaning to an extreme degree. To be fearsome is to cause fear or to be capable of causing fear. Things that are fearsome make us fearful.


Tens of thousands of people have turned out for the demonstrations despite still being fearful of the notoriously brutal secret police. [Sky News]

They have a fearsome reputation as bloodthirsty limb-biters with a taste for human flesh. [Salon]

He also tried to convince a judge that he was so fearful of his brother John Hillis that he felt compelled to grab a rifle out of his bedroom to protect himself. [AP]

A fearsome storm has spread a smothering shroud of white over nearly half the US. [Sydney Morning Herald]

1 thought on “Fearful vs. fearsome”

  1. yeah, except if you actually look up the definition of fearsome on several sources timid is the second or third definition for fearsome, which is the question that led me here… how can this be?


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