14

Example:

The wind and the owls weren't the/my only [...] that night.

I didn't using fear as a noun is a bit weird in this situation? What's a better alternative?

  • 1
    bugbear, bete noire, etc. – FumbleFingers Jan 27 '15 at 15:10
  • 4
    Worry, concern [mild]; terror [strong]. – Erik Kowal Jan 27 '15 at 15:43
  • 1
    A phobia, or a source of apprehension. – jxh Jan 27 '15 at 16:49
  • 9
    As others are saying, fear is the best fit for that sentence. – Ali Caglayan Jan 27 '15 at 20:32
  • 1
    I don't think fear is the word you are going for, and neither did you. I think eeriness probably fits better. +1 for paying attention to your intuitions as a listener. – DaveMorganTexas Jan 29 '15 at 0:19

13 Answers 13

39

Using fear as a noun like this is perfectly acceptable. Most of the alternatives being suggested feel awkward in comparison. "My worst fear" and "my only fear" are common sentence fragments; google searches for them return 367k and 305k results respectively. Most tellingly) "the fear of" returns a whopping 47 million results.

You've already got the correct word - use it!

11

Fright may fit your context:

  • Sudden intense fear, as of something immediately threatening
  • You mean, frightening? – Ismael Miguel Jan 27 '15 at 12:28
  • Isn't OP looking for a noun? – user66974 Jan 27 '15 at 12:34
  • I didn't using fear as a noun is a bit weird in this situation? What's a better alternative? --> He is clearly asking a better alternative. – Ismael Miguel Jan 27 '15 at 12:36
  • In that case you should suggest a rewording of the sentence! – user66974 Jan 27 '15 at 12:40
  • 4
    Fright is the right word for the OP's demo sentence. – James Jan 27 '15 at 12:48
11

One option is Terror

  1. Informal. a person or thing that is especially annoying or unpleasant.

Even more so in British usage:

  1. A person or thing that inspires great dread

This fits pretty well into your sentence:

The wind and the owls weren't the only terror that night.

7

How about :

The wind and the owls weren't the only fearsome things that night.

  • I feel fearsome in this sense implies the wind and the owls are themselves fearsome, rather than conveying the OP's fear of them – Robotnik Jan 28 '15 at 4:32
  • @Robotnik Yes, it's not a perfect fit and also difficult for me to voice because I'm not at all frightened by wind or owls :-) – Roger Rowland Jan 28 '15 at 4:56
  • This was also the first thing that came to mind for me, but I agree, not a perfect fit. I think the accepted answer "fear" is quite likely the best. – delliottg Jan 28 '15 at 20:16
6

There are two words I can come up with:

  • scary — something that makes you scared, with fear

  • frightening — something that causes you fear


As I brought up in a comment to another answer, you may reword your sentence to:

The wind and the owls weren't the only frightening/scary things that night.

2

You could use Bogeyman/men. Whilst this has the literal meaning ascribed in the link, I believe it can also be used to refer to a more general fear, perhaps commonly "of the night".

The wind and the owls weren't the only bogeymen that night.

2

Something that causes fear is frightening.

It works in your context, too:

The wind and the owls were not the only frightening things [that]/[in the] night.

1

A more formal word for fear (as a noun) is a phobia

The wind and the owls weren't my only phobias that night.

Something a little less extreme might be worry or concern

The wind and the owls weren't my only worries that night.

The wind and the owls weren't my only concerns that night.

Honestly, I don't thing using the word fear here would be that odd at all. Of course, that depends on whether or not you have just recently used in (i.e., in the previous sentence).

  • 3
    I would say "phobia" is generally used to denote an anxiety disorder or a strong irrational fear. In fact I can't think of ever hearing used outside that context. – Wudang Jan 28 '15 at 16:28
0

Consider tormenter (or tormentor)

a person or thing that torments

Collins

Oxford Dictionaries Online defines torment as

Severe physical or mental suffering

0

a great word for something that causes fear is a "menace."

it works here, too, depending on the tone of what you're writing:

The wind and the owls were not the only menaces in that night.

  • 3
    Owls are not usually considered to be a menace. Fear speaks more to perception, whereas menace speaks to potential for causing actual harm. – Dave Magner Jan 27 '15 at 19:30
0

The wind and the owls weren't the/my only unease that night.

The wind and the owls were not the only apprehensions that night.

The wind and owls were not all I dread that night.

-1
  • The wind and the owls weren't the only formidable beasts that night.
  • The wind and the owls weren't my only frightful opponents that night.
  • The wind and the owls weren't my only dreadful adversaries I had that night.
  • The wind and the owls weren't the only adversaries I dreaded that night.
-1

A few words that might ring a bell-

If the fear gave an almost pleasurable sensation of fright/a sudden numbing, you can use:

To indicate a fearful expectation or anticipation:

If the fear resulted from the awareness of danger, you may use:

Reference- TFD

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