What is a word that I could use for "fear of punishment". Not in a phobia sense, but more of a reason that people won't do something that results in punishment/consequences.

An example sentence for this word would be "Jason forced Erik to do something, using Erik's [insert word here]."

I feel like fear of punishment/consequences sounds very bulky, and I want a concise way to say that. I have also already tried searching it up on google, but got no rresults.

A small compound word or phrase would be acceptable.

2 Answers 2


Deterrence may be the concept you’re looking for. People are deterred from doing that which has unpleasant or otherwise costly consequences. This is the fundamental principle on which the criminal justice system is based.

de·ter (dĭ-tûr)

tr.v. de·terred, de·ter·ring, de·ters

  1. To prevent or discourage from acting, as by means of fear or doubt: threats that did not deter her from speaking out; skin chemicals that deter predators.
  2. To prevent or discourage (an action or behavior): installed surveillance cameras to deter vandalism.
  3. To make less likely or prevent from happening: protocols to deter infection.

[Latin dēterrēre : dē-, de- + terrēre, to frighten.]

It’s interesting that the Latin source means to frighten.



I suggest three words. It is hard to avoid phobias. I doubt the first phobia will be commonly understood. It is:

mastigophobia = Mastigophobia is the irrational fear of punishment. Someone suffering from this condition can expect to experience a very high amount of anxiety when merely thinking of being punished. In some extreme cases, their anxiety may be so extreme and intrusive that they may even endure full blown panic attacks as a result of their mastigophobia. However, this will vary from person to person, as well as how severe their mastigophobia is.

If someone were to experience a panic attack due to their mastigophobia, then they can expect to experience an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased rate of breathing, muscle tension, shakiness, and excessive sweating, among other symptoms.

Someone with this condition may be overly concerned with doing the right thing even in the most mundane of situations. For example, it is plausible to conceive that someone suffering from mastigophobia may feel opposed to picking up a quarter on the ground for fear that they are stealing it, which will then come with some sort of punishment. Essentially, any action that has the potential to have punishments may give someone with mastigophobia a very high influx of anxiety.

Psych Times

Slightly more specific about the form of punishment is:

Rhabdophobia = Through time Rhabdophobia has been given several meanings. Rhabdophobia is the fear being criticized or punished or fear of being beaten by a rod (stick, club or swtiches) or fear of magic (wands). The origin of the word rhabdo is Greek (meaning rod, stick or wand) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). Rhabdophobia is considered to be a specific phobia, which is discussed on the home page. Rhabdophobia is also called Rhobdophobia.

Common Phobias

To avoid phobias, if we make a gerundial noun of cringe, we could refer to Erik’s cringing.

Cringe = to shrink in fear or servility

Merriam Webster

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