What is a word that means "fear of being discovered"?
Preferably a word but a phrase will also do just fine. In my case I want to use it like:

He had constant fear that he would be discovered as the murderer
He had ___ that he was going to be discovered as the murderer

  • Josh, it might be more helpful if you put a _____ in for the word you want. Here I'm not sure if you want to replace "fear" or "discovered" or "fear that he would be discovered".
    – jimm101
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 12:13

2 Answers 2


I would say 'exposure fear'.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exposure:


disclosure of something secret

// tried to prevent exposure of their past

  • 1
    "Fear of being exposed" would be my preference. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 17:54
  • 1
    An unidiomatic phrase. Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 18:39
  • If I encountered exposure fear in the wild I wouldn't immediately know whether it meant fear of being exposed or fear of exposing oneself or even fear of encountering someone exposing themselves. Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 7:36

There's a one-word psychological term (as a synonym to impostor syndrome), called impostorism; it is also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience. According to Wikipedia, it is:

a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

or rather

the feeling of being an impostor.

  • 3
    This doesn't answer the question at all. The imposter syndrome can be experienced by people who have done nothing criminal. "doubts their accomplishments" isn't the same as "fears their crime/guilt will be exposed".
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 9:49

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