"Lingering fear" is when after a fearful/traumatic experience, you still have some fright remaining despite there are no more dangers. I was wondering if there's any single word that can possibly represent this?

  • It's not exactly a "word", but PTSD is only four characters. And probably if there had been a shorter alternative to the full four-word original, they'd have gone for that in the first place. Aug 13, 2015 at 20:44
  • I don't know any specific word for this trauma
    – Graffito
    Aug 13, 2015 at 21:33
  • If you don't like PTSD, try aversion.
    – Mazura
    Aug 13, 2015 at 21:38

5 Answers 5


Residual Fear, vestigial and impending;

If the fear is pathological, then the given answers, neurosis (Charon) and PTSD (Centaurus ) would be best to describe the psychological trauma.

But the fear experienced in everyday life may be unpleasant but not damaging. Such fear, if it is a vestige, is experienced as (Oxford definitions)

'perturbation(the state of feeling anxious about something that has happened),'
'haunting (beautiful, sad or frightening in a way that cannot be forgotten).'

If there is also menace of the fear returning there is, (Merriam-Webster definitions)

'foreboding(presentiment especially of coming evil),'
'trepidation(: a feeling of fear that causes you to hesitate because you think something bad or unpleasant is going to happen),'
'edginess'( characterized by tension) may be experienced.

Clearly a widespread experience, and there are many shades of meaning to choose from.

  • 1
    Also unease. Good list.
    – stevesliva
    Aug 15, 2015 at 5:06

Dread? That emotion is often based on a previous experience,although it can relate to future possible events.

  • 1
    Dread occurred to me, too, but I was put off by its emphasis on fear of something impending rather than on residual fear about something that has already occurred but continues to linger in the mind.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 14, 2015 at 23:02

The best term for that condition, as mentioned above by FF, is PTSD which stands for "post-traumatic stress disorder". The term describes exactly what you mentioned and there is no single and specific word for that.

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as major stress, sexual assault, warfare, or other threats on a person's life. Symptoms include disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyperarousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event. - Wikipedia

I think that neurosis fits your requirements quite well.

  • A relatively mild mental illness that is not caused by organic disease, involving symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behaviour, hypochondria) but not a radical loss of touch with reality.

  • (in non-technical use) excessive and irrational anxiety or obsession.

Whilst it isn't exactly synonymous with 'lingering fear', I think that someone who did have a recalcitrant, irrational fear could be said to be neurotic.

  • 1
    Heh, what word means "radical loss of touch with reality"?
    – Mazura
    Aug 13, 2015 at 21:37
  • 1
    Good question. I'd guess psychosis.
    – Charon
    Aug 13, 2015 at 21:38

phobia: an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

(In your case, I guess it would be irrational more than extreme.)

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