Emotion Thesaurus: Fear


When it comes to emotion, sometimes we need a brainstorming nudge. After all, each character will express their feelings differently depending on their personality, emotional range, and comfort zone. We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how your character might show this emotion!

If you need to go deeper, we have detailed lists of body language, visceral sensations, and mental responses for 75 emotions in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.


  • shaking, trying not to shake
  • a white-knuckled grip
  • leg muscles tightening, ready to run
  • shivery skin, crawling flesh
  • dizziness
  • gasping for air
  • dry mouth
  • crying
  • shaking the head in denial
  • a voice that goes shrill
  • stuttering, mispronouncing words
  • a compulsion to talk non-stop about anything
  • loosening of the bladder
  • holding back a scream or cry
  • flinching at noises
  • the sudden urge to flee
  • hyper-sensitivity to touch…

Win your readers’ hearts by tailoring your character’s emotional responses so they’re compelling, credible, and realistic.

If you struggle with writing emotions, you aren’t alone. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression has helped writers all over the globe, and it can help you. To find out more about this bestselling book, please visit our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

The Emotion Thesaurus is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers. There, we’ve expanded the entries to include many more emotions such as grief, lust, and self-loathing. Visit the Emotion Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

If you’re ready to elevate your storytelling, stop by sometime to see if our one-of-a-kind tools and resources can help you. Registration is always free. 🙂


Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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3 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus: Fear

  1. Liz says:

    Wonderful site. There is so much here to help me with my writing, and I really appreciate that. Many thanks!!

  2. Merc says:

    This is a FANTASTIC reference! 😀 Great job, ladies, keep it up!


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