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Things to Be Afraid of - a List of Fears and Phobias

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Writing is one of my several hobbies, and lists like the one below help me with writer's block every now and again.

A screaming statue.

A screaming statue.

Fear Is Not For the Weak - It's For Everybody

They're lots of things to be afraid of in this world, but what's so interesting about fear is that although it's universal, it's also erratic. What one person is afraid of, another may find to be humorous. Everyone has a fear of something, and giving your character something to be afraid of will immediately make them more relatable to people.

Most characters that appear to show no fear, are actually quite afraid "on the inside", and those that aren't afraid of anything, I find to be quite boring (as will many others). Now I'm not saying you have to show how afraid your character is of something right off the bat, but eventually you're gonna have to show the wide eyes, the beads of sweat, the screams... the fear. Presenting a bold character that isn't afraid of anything, only to have them later to be terrified is great for a story. The list of fears and phobias below will hopefully make your creation a little more believable. Enjoy!

Things to be Afraid Of




Being Lonely


Going Crazy



Talking About Religion



Interstate Driving

Making Mistakes

Speaking in Public



Being Punched in Face




Being Put on the Spot



Being Caught



Mice and Rats

Strange Men


Memory Loss

Strange Women


Bad News










Old Age

Losing Your Eyesight








Pantyhose (over someone's head)


People Holding Axes




Be afraid of chickens.

Be afraid of chickens.

More Things That Make You Scared

  • Balloons popping while blowing them up; this can also be a great source of entertainment when done with a group of friends.
  • Blue Jays can be very aggressive birds. If they have a nest near your home, you'd better be careful of dive bomb attacks aimed at your face; pets will be targeted as well.
  • Canned fish and food poisoning doesn't happen often, but if it happens once, you'll always be leery eating fish from a can.
  • Darkness is one of those things everyone should be really afraid of; you just never know what's waiting in the dark for you.
  • Driving or walking over bridges; the older bridges that creak and groan are the worst.
  • People being ashamed or disappointed in me.
  • Just the sound of a chainsaw starting up feels me with absolute trepidation (especially at night).
  • Lists (I just don't like to be on them, even if in a good way.)
  • Losing touch with close friends can bring on a feeling of loneliness.
  • Nagging suspicions that none of your friends really like you.
  • Rubber bands. If you've ever seen that video where a guy keeps putting rubber bands on a watermelon causing it to eventually explode... you know what I'm talking about.
  • Sprinkles (especially chocolate ones) look exactly like mouse turds. A friend of mine once made that mistake and won't eat anything with chocolate sprinkles on it.
  • Wasps and hornets look much more meaner than bees. The fact that they can repeatedly sting you over and over again doesn't help much either.

Unusual Things People Are Afraid Of

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.

— Nelson Mandela

Fear and Pain Equal Emotional Damage

The argument has been made by friends of mine that being violated or feeling that you are not in control is more of a trigger for fear than the pain. They feel that pain is just a side affect, like panic. I must admit I was intrigued by this particular observation, though there was still plenty of us that went with the "pain theory".

Quicksand is no laughing matter.

Quicksand is no laughing matter.

Different Fears for Different People - Some Common Phobias and Their Scientific Names

  • Acrophobia: Funny how people call this an irrational fear of heights, but nobody likes to fall to their death. Being too high can make some people too afraid to even move.
  • Aerophobia: The fear of flying in airplanes affects a healthy chunk of the populations, even though plane crashes aren't really that common anymore.
  • Arachnophobia: If you've ever had a spider infestation in your home, you'll always at least be a little bit afraid of spiders. Just the thought of spiders crawling on me fills me with a sense of dread and terror.
  • Bathmophobia: A fear of stairs or steep slopes.
  • Claustrophobia: Never ask someone who has a fear of small, cramped and enclosed spaces to go caving with you.
  • Ephebiphobia: fear of young people
  • Germophobia: I knew a guy who was so afraid of germs that he wiped everything in the area he would be working down with alcohol (twice daily).
  • Nyctohylophobia: If you are in the woods at night, the first thing you notice is that you'll notice every little crack of a limb or scrape of a rock. Oh, and if you have a light source (fire, flashlight, etc.), you'll notice the shadows.
  • Podophobia: Believe it or not there are as many people who don't like feet as there are who do like feet.
  • Sciophobia: A fear of shadows.
  • Teratophobia: Giving birth to deformed children or monsters.
  • Trypanophobia: My hatred for needles has faded as I've grown older, but make no mistake, the fear of needles can make some grown men and women tremble with fear.
  • Trypophobia: The fear of holes may sound unusual, but is actually pretty common. I'm betting this kind of anxiety is closely associated with fear of the unknown as well.
  • Xenophobia: The fear of foreigners.

Being Afraid of a Bunny Can Be Very, Very Funny (But Not To Those Who Have That Fear)

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More Funny or Odd Things To Be Afraid Of


Pie Thrown in Face


Bubble Wrap


Mounted Animal Heads


Wax Paper


Naked People




Super Glue

Duct Tape

Electric Hair Clippers


Carnivorous Plants


Glass Eyes




Really Long Hair

People With Scars

Garden Gnomes

Chicken Liver (raw)

Garden Hoes

Used Toilet Paper


Peanut Butter

Animals With Antlers

The Unknown


Coconuts (falling on head)


Ophidiophobia - The Fear of Snakes?

More Common Fears That Can Be Very Scary To Certain People

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): Anyone who has seen the Terminator movies has thought about machines taking over the world. It's interesting that we have very smart and prominent people such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. While I believe we should not curtail technology; I do believe we need to always be vigilant that our technology doesn't go far enough to become sentient.
  • Sharpie Pens / Permanent Markers: I have a friend of a friend who is absolutely against these types of writing instruments. When he was in college, his face and arms were decorated with these pens while he was passed out. It took weeks to wear off and affected his life in quite a negative way.
  • Wire Clothes Hangers: I know a few people that grew up during the 70's and 80's that were whipped with hangers... they don't like them, they don't even like to look at them. So sad.
  • Briars: This was a very real fear for me when I was a kid that hasn't stuck with me into adulthood. I can remember being totally caught in a thicket of briers after falling into them accidentally. I had on sweat pants and a loose shirt that the thorns seemed to cling to like glue. I stayed trapped for around an hour before my granny and brother came to my rescue. I quickly became an expert at recognizing any bushes or shrubs that used these barbed vines for defense... and avoided them.
  • Cereal Boxes: Most people never have or ever will be afraid of open up a cereal box and pouring themselves some morning breakfast, but if you've ever found something unexpected in that box, it's a different story. I can't think of a better reason to securely fasten up your cereal after using it than finding a small snake or spider in it. Yikes! You'll still be very cautious when opening cereal even years later if this ever happens to you.

Fear doesn't shut you down; it wakes you up.

— Veronica Roth, Divergent

Fears People Have Often Appear In Movies

Another Batch of Things People Fear Most

  • Phlegm or snot flying into your face from someone sneezing and not covering there mouth, and they don't have to be standing close to you for it to land on you. Phlegm can travel far when propelled by a sneeze.
  • Insects: Imagine some bug or spider crawling into your ear while you sleep or something burrowing underneath your skin while out for a walk and you can see why there's lots of people who don't like bugs.
  • Hot Mashed Potatoes: I have a friend who will not to this very day eat hot mashed potatoes; she'll only eat them cold. When she was in her teens someone accidentally dropped a large serving on her face while she was asleep. The situation was traumatic, to say the least. A lot of fears we have often come from such negative experiences.
  • Being a victim of someone wiping or flicking a booger at you is no fun, especially when they aim them at your face. It can cause a lot of problems if you retaliate and are punished for that retaliation.
  • A bookshelf turning over on you while trying to get a book. (If this ever happens to you, you'll always be cautious around any tall object.)

© 2018 Don

What are you afraid of?

Don (author) from Tennessee on June 14, 2020:

There are a lot of scary video games out there that become even more scarier when you play them in the dark.

Sapphirezzz on June 12, 2020:

I'm scared of roblox horror games. I'm not sure why, haha.

Don (author) from Tennessee on March 10, 2019:

Have you never seen the Ghostbusters movie? Haha.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 10, 2019:

I had no idea people could be afraid of marshmallows!

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