I first saw "bewildered fear" in a book by Bertrand Russell:

And in a more or less analogous way any questioning of what has been taken for granted destroys the feeling of standing on solid ground, and produces a condition of bewildered fear.

More instances can be found on the web, including this one from Alfred Kinsey:

The history of medicine proves that in so far as man seeks to know himself and face his whole nature, he has become free from bewildered fear, despondent shame, or arrant hypocrisy.

How could fear be bewildered?!

  • 1
    The fear isn't bewildered; the person is both bewildered and afraid. Commented May 18, 2018 at 7:20

2 Answers 2


I interpret the phrase as something like lost or wild fear. A type of existential, animalistic fear–that is indeed anxious, as Eddie B. True said. The adjective is simply describing the fear more.

The phrase takes a while make sense, a lot of it depends on context. I personally don't like it, there are surely single words that could be used instead.


My take is it's more akin to anxiety. The referenced person doesn't have a clear take on whether or not a perceived issue is dangerous or not.

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