27 Idioms for Being Scared


Fear is a universal emotion experienced by everyone at some point in life. Just as fear can take various forms, so can the ways we express it through language.

In this article, we’ll delve into a collection of idioms for feeling scared, unravel their meanings, and discover how these phrases add color to our conversations.

idioms for scared

What is an idiom for scared?

Idioms for feeling scared are phrases that use figurative language to convey a sense of fear or extreme anxiety.

They provide a vivid and often humorous way to describe the feeling of being frightened or apprehensive.


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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Let’s explore this list of idioms, decode their meanings, and see how they can be used effectively.

IdiomMeaningIn a Sentence
Shiver in One’s BootsTo feel extremely frightened or terrified.When she heard the eerie noises in the dark, she couldn’t help but shiver in her boots.
Jump out of One’s SkinTo be startled or frightened to an extreme degree, causing a strong physical reaction.The sudden loud noise made him jump out of his skin.
Cold FeetTo become apprehensive or hesitant about something one was initially enthusiastic about.He had cold feet about the bungee jumping adventure just as he stood at the edge of the platform.
Have Butterflies in One’s StomachTo feel nervous or anxious, usually before a significant event or when facing something intimidating.Before giving the important speech, she admitted to having butterflies in her stomach.
Scared out of One’s WitsTo be frightened to the point of losing one’s ability to think clearly or logically.The sudden appearance of the ghostly figure scared her out of her wits, and she screamed.
Hair Standing on EndTo describe the sensation of the hair on one’s body, particularly on the neck or arms, standing upright due to extreme fear or shock.The eerie sound in the abandoned house left her with her hair standing on end.
White as a GhostTo become extremely pale or visibly scared due to fear or shock.After witnessing the accident, he turned as white as a ghost, unable to speak.
Heart in One’s ThroatTo describe the feeling of intense fear or anxiety, often accompanied by a racing heart.As she approached the haunted house, she could feel her heart in her throat.
Quaking in One’s BootsTo feel extreme fear or nervousness, often causing one’s legs to shake or tremble.When he realized he was lost in the dark forest, he began quaking in his boots.
Scared StiffTo be so frightened that one becomes rigid or unable to move.The sudden appearance of the wild animal left him scared stiff, and he couldn’t budge.
Scared to DeathTo be so frightened that it feels as though one’s life is in danger.The unexpected sound of thunder scared the young child to death.
Scared as a Rabbit in HeadlightsTo be paralyzed with fear or shock, unable to move or react.When the car’s headlights suddenly appeared in front of him, he was scared as a rabbit in headlights.
Scared as a Deer in HeadlightsSimilar to the previous idiom, this phrase describes the fear-induced paralysis of a person facing a shocking or terrifying situation.As the horror movie reached its climax, the audience was scared as a deer in headlights.
Scared as a Cat on a Hot Tin RoofTo be extremely nervous or jumpy, as if in a state of constant apprehension.During the storm, the cat was scared as a cat on a hot tin roof, darting around the house in fear.
Scared as a Mouse in a Snake’s DenTo describe the feeling of being in an extremely dangerous or threatening situation, often with a sense of vulnerability.Walking through the dark alley alone, she felt scared as a mouse in a snake’s den.
Scared as a Turkey on ThanksgivingTo be terrified or anxious, often in a situation where one feels vulnerable or exposed.When he realized he had forgotten his lines on stage, he was scared as a turkey on Thanksgiving.
Scared as a Chicken in a FoxholeTo feel extreme fear or anxiety, especially when facing a dangerous or life-threatening situation.In the midst of the battle, the soldier felt scared as a chicken in a foxhole.
Scared as a Fish out of WaterTo feel out of place, uncomfortable, or anxious in an unfamiliar or unfamiliar environment.At the formal dinner party, he felt scared as a fish out of water, not knowing how to behave.
Scared as a Bear in a BeehiveTo describe a feeling of extreme fear or discomfort, often when surrounded by chaotic or dangerous circumstances.In the middle of the protest, the politician felt scared as a bear in a beehive.
Scared as a Squirrel in TrafficTo be extremely frightened or anxious in a chaotic or unpredictable situation.Crossing the busy intersection during rush hour, she felt scared as a squirrel in traffic.
Scared as a Bird in a ThunderstormTo be overwhelmed with fear or anxiety, often in a situation where one feels vulnerable.When the thunderstorm hit, the children huddled indoors, scared as birds in a thunderstorm.
Scared as a Horse in a Fireworks ShowTo describe a state of extreme fear or agitation, often in response to loud or unexpected noises.The fireworks display left the normally calm dog scared as a horse in a fireworks show.
Scared as a Dog at the VetTo feel anxious or fearful in a situation where one anticipates discomfort or an unpleasant experience.Waiting in the dentist’s office, she was scared as a dog at the vet, dreading the upcoming procedure.
Scared as a Lizard on a Hot RockTo describe a state of heightened alertness and anxiety, often in response to perceived danger.When she heard strange noises outside her tent while camping alone, she was scared as a lizard on a hot rock.
Scared as a Kangaroo in a Boxing RingTo feel extremely out of place or vulnerable in a situation that one is ill-prepared for.Being asked to give a speech without any preparation made him feel scared as a kangaroo in a boxing ring.
Scared as a Bee in a BonnetTo describe a state of extreme anxiety or agitation, often when one is overwhelmed by worries.Faced with numerous deadlines, she was scared as a bee in a bonnet, trying to finish all her tasks.

When someone feels really scared, it’s like their heart is racing as fast as a cheetah chasing its prey. You can find more comparisons for being scared at this link: Similes for scared. And if you want to explore other ways to describe fear, you can check out this link: Metaphors for scared.

Idioms for Scared

1. Shiver in One’s Boots

Meaning: To feel extremely frightened or terrified.

In a Sentence: When she heard the eerie noises in the dark, she couldn’t help but shiver in her boots.

2. Jump out of One’s Skin

Meaning: To be startled or frightened to an extreme degree, causing a strong physical reaction.

In a Sentence: The sudden loud noise made him jump out of his skin.

3. Cold Feet

Meaning: To become apprehensive or hesitant about something one was initially enthusiastic about, often right before taking action.

In a Sentence: He had cold feet about the bungee jumping adventure just as he stood at the edge of the platform.

4. Have Butterflies in One’s Stomach

Meaning: To feel nervous or anxious, usually before a significant event or when facing something intimidating.

In a Sentence: Before giving the important speech, she admitted to having butterflies in her stomach.

5. Scared out of One’s Wits

Meaning: To be frightened to the point of losing one’s ability to think clearly or logically.

In a Sentence: The sudden appearance of the ghostly figure scared her out of her wits, and she screamed.

6. Hair Standing on End

Meaning: To describe the sensation of the hair on one’s body, particularly on the neck or arms, standing upright due to extreme fear or shock.

In a Sentence: The eerie sound in the abandoned house left her with her hair standing on end.

7. White as a Ghost

Meaning: To become extremely pale or visibly scared due to fear or shock.

In a Sentence: After witnessing the accident, he turned as white as a ghost, unable to speak.

8. Heart in One’s Throat

Meaning: To describe the feeling of intense fear or anxiety, often accompanied by a racing heart.

In a Sentence: As she approached the haunted house, she could feel her heart in her throat.

9. Quaking in One’s Boots

Meaning: To feel extreme fear or nervousness, often causing one’s legs to shake or tremble.

In a Sentence: When he realized he was lost in the dark forest, he began quaking in his boots.

10. Scared Stiff

Meaning: To be so frightened that one becomes rigid or unable to move.

In a Sentence: The sudden appearance of the wild animal left him scared stiff, and he couldn’t budge.

11. Scared to Death

Meaning: To be so frightened that it feels as though one’s life is in danger.

In a Sentence: The unexpected sound of thunder scared the young child to death.

12. Scared as a Rabbit in Headlights

Meaning: To be paralyzed with fear or shock, unable to move or react.

In a Sentence: When the car’s headlights suddenly appeared in front of him, he was scared as a rabbit in headlights.

13. Scared as a Deer in Headlights

Meaning: Similar to the previous idiom, this phrase describes the fear-induced paralysis of a person facing a shocking or terrifying situation.

In a Sentence: As the horror movie reached its climax, the audience was scared as a deer in headlights.

14. Scared as a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Meaning: To be extremely nervous or jumpy, as if in a state of constant apprehension.

In a Sentence: During the storm, the cat was scared as a cat on a hot tin roof, darting around the house in fear.

15. Scared as a Mouse in a Snake’s Den

Meaning: To describe the feeling of being in an extremely dangerous or threatening situation, often with a sense of vulnerability.

In a Sentence: Walking through the dark alley alone, she felt scared as a mouse in a snake’s den.

16. Scared as a Turkey on Thanksgiving

Meaning: To be terrified or anxious, often in a situation where one feels vulnerable or exposed.

In a Sentence: When he realized he had forgotten his lines on stage, he was scared as a turkey on Thanksgiving.

17. Scared as a Chicken in a Foxhole

Meaning: To feel extreme fear or anxiety, especially when facing a dangerous or life-threatening situation.

In a Sentence: In the midst of the battle, the soldier felt scared as a chicken in a foxhole.

18. Scared as a Fish out of Water

Meaning: To feel out of place, uncomfortable, or anxious in an unfamiliar or unfamiliar environment.

In a Sentence: At the formal dinner party, he felt scared as a fish out of water, not knowing how to behave.

19. Scared as a Bear in a Beehive

Meaning: To describe a feeling of extreme fear or discomfort, often when surrounded by chaotic or dangerous circumstances.

In a Sentence: In the middle of the protest, the politician felt scared as a bear in a beehive.

20. Scared as a Squirrel in Traffic

Meaning: To be extremely frightened or anxious in a chaotic or unpredictable situation.

In a Sentence: Crossing the busy intersection during rush hour, she felt scared as a squirrel in traffic.

21. Scared as a Bird in a Thunderstorm

Meaning: To be overwhelmed with fear or anxiety, often in a situation where one feels vulnerable.

In a Sentence: When the thunderstorm hit, the children huddled indoors, scared as birds in a thunderstorm.

22. Scared as a Horse in a Fireworks Show

Meaning: To describe a state of extreme fear or agitation, often in response to loud or unexpected noises.

In a Sentence: The fireworks display left the normally calm dog scared as a horse in a fireworks show.

23. Scared as a Dog at the Vet

Meaning: To feel anxious or fearful in a situation where one anticipates discomfort or an unpleasant experience.

In a Sentence: Waiting in the dentist’s office, she was scared as a dog at the vet, dreading the upcoming procedure.

24. Scared as a Lizard on a Hot Rock

Meaning: To describe a state of heightened alertness and anxiety, often in response to perceived danger.

In a Sentence: When she heard strange noises outside her tent while camping alone, she was scared as a lizard on a hot rock.

25. Scared as a Kangaroo in a Boxing Ring

Meaning: To feel extremely out of place or vulnerable in a situation that one is ill-prepared for.

In a Sentence: Being asked to give a speech without any preparation made him feel scared as a kangaroo in a boxing ring.

26. Scared as a Bee in a Bonnet

Meaning: To describe a state of extreme anxiety or agitation, often when one is overwhelmed by worries.

In a Sentence: Faced with numerous deadlines, she was scared as a bee in a bonnet, trying to finish all her tasks.

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

Quiz 1: Shiver in One’s Boots

  1. What does the idiom “shiver in one’s boots” mean?
  2. Can you use this idiom in a sentence?

Quiz 2: Jump out of One’s Skin 3. What is the meaning of “jump out of one’s skin” as an idiom?

  1. Provide an example sentence using this idiom.

Quiz 3: Cold Feet 5. Explain the idiom “cold feet.”

  1. Share a sentence using this expression.

Quiz 4: Have Butterflies in One’s Stomach 7. Define the idiom “have butterflies in one’s stomach.”

  1. Create a sentence demonstrating the use of this phrase.

Quiz 5: Scared out of One’s Wits 9. What does “scared out of one’s wits” mean as an idiom?

  1. Write a sentence illustrating the usage of this idiom.

Quiz 6: Hair Standing on End 11. Interpret the idiom “hair standing on end.”

  1. Construct a sentence using this idiom.

Quiz 7: White as a Ghost 13. Provide the meaning of “white as a ghost” as an idiom.

  1. Formulate a sentence that includes this idiom.

Quiz 8: Heart in One’s Throat 15. Explain the idiom “heart in one’s throat.”

  1. Present a sentence using this idiom.

Quiz 9: Quaking in One’s Boots 17. What is the meaning of “quaking in one’s boots” as an idiom?

  1. Offer a sentence applying this expression.

Quiz 10: Scared Stiff 19. Define the idiom “scared stiff.”

  1. Construct a sentence demonstrating the use of this phrase.

Feel free to answer these questions or use them for practice and review of the idioms for feeling scared!

Conclusion

Fear is a powerful and relatable emotion, and idioms for feeling scared allow us to capture the intensity of that emotion in a colorful and expressive way. From shivering in one’s boots to having butterflies in one’s stomach, these phrases help us convey the vivid sensations that fear can bring.

Cite this entry:

Phrasesdirectory.com. “,” Retrieved from Phrases Directory – Accessed

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