List of Phobias: Definitions and Descriptions

Ian C. Langtree Content Writer/Editor for Disabled World
Published: 2009/01/11 - Updated: 2023/12/01
Contents: Summary - Definition - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: List and definitions of both rare and common fears and phobias in children and adults. A phobia is an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, or persons. Most phobias are classified into two categories. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), such phobias are considered sub-types of anxiety disorder. Specific phobias are fear of particular objects or social situations that immediately result in anxiety and can sometimes lead to panic attacks. A specific phobia may be further subdivided into five categories: animal type, natural environment type, situational type, blood-injection-injury type, and others.


A phobia can be classified as a disability in that it can affect a person's psychological being and ability to perform certain tasks. In clinical psychology, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation that the sufferer commits to great lengths to avoid, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often recognized as irrational. If the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities.

Main Digest

A phobia is an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, or persons. Most phobias are classified into two categories. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), such phobias are considered sub-types of anxiety disorder.

Specific Phobias

Fear of particular objects or social situations that immediately results in anxiety and can sometimes lead to panic attacks. A specific phobia may be further subdivided into five categories:

Phobia Facts and Statistics

Alphabetical List of Phobia Definitions

Noun: The fear of little people, as described as dwarfism or little people.
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder, often precipitated by the fear of having a panic attack in a setting from which there are no easy means of escape. As a result, people living with agoraphobia may avoid public and unfamiliar places. Agoraphobia arises from an internal anxiety condition that has become so intense that the suffering individual fears going anywhere or doing anything where these feelings of panic have repeatedly occurred before. Agoraphobia can come on suddenly or develop gradually, typically developing between the ages of 18 and 35. Symptoms include strong feelings of panic, dread, terror, and horror, recognizing that the anxiety is overblown, yet being unable to "talk yourself out of it," rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and trembling. An overwhelming urge to flee the situation - all physical reactions associated with extreme fear going to great lengths to avoid the situation that causes fear.
Fear of spiders. Arachnophobia is a specific phobia, an abnormal fear of spiders. It is among the most common of all phobias. The reactions of arachnophobic's often seem irrational to others (and sometimes to the sufferers themselves). People with arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbor spiders, or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs.
Acidophobia, Acidophobic
Preference for non-acidic conditions. The terms Acidophobe/Acidophobia//Acidophoby/Acidophobic refer to intolerance to acidic environments. The term applies to plants, bacteria, protozoa, animals, and other chemical compounds. The anthonymous term is "acidophile." Cf. "alkaliphile."
Known by several names - Acrophobia, Altophobia, and Fear of Heights being the most common. Acrophobia can be dangerous, as sufferers can experience a panic attack in a high place and become too agitated to get themselves down safely. Like all fears and phobias, altophobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism. At some point in your past, there was likely an event linking heights or high levels and emotional trauma. Vertigo is often misused to describe the fear of heights, but it is more accurately described as a spinning sensation, which may be caused by looking down from a high place.
Fear of cats. Ailurophobia is a type of specific phobia. It is a persistent, irrational fear of cats.
Algophobia is a phobia of pain, an abnormal and persistent fear of pain that is far more powerful than that of a normal person. Sensitivity may lead to algophobia, depending on the person's psychological makeup. Still, pain sensitivity could be on other than psychological grounds.
Fear of people or being in a company, a form of social phobia. Anthropophobia is an extreme, pathological form of shyness and timidness. It may be manifested in fears of blushing, meeting the gaze of others, awkwardness, and uneasiness when appearing in society. Millions worldwide suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) and related conditions. Yet virtually everyone knows what it is like to feel shy or lacking in social confidence, often to the extent that can limit opportunities and happiness.
Apiphobia, Melissophobia
Fear of bees. Melissophobia - Fear of bees or bee stings is common among people.
Aquaphobia, Hydrophobia
Aquaphobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of water. They may avoid boating and swimming or swimming in the deep ocean despite mastering basic swimming skills. Medical professionals indicate that aquaphobia may manifest itself in a person through their specific experiences or due to biological factors. Some people may develop the phobia as a reaction to a traumatic water experience. Other individuals may suffer from an "instinctive reaction" to the water, which arises separately from any observable factors. They have a gut reaction that limits their fundamental comfort level in casual water activities, such as swimming. Many people mistakenly refer to aquaphobia as 'hydrophobia'; hydrophobia is a symptom of later-stage rabies and manifests itself in humans as difficulty in swallowing, fear when presented with liquids to drink, and an inability to quench one's thirst.
Astraphobia, Astrapophobia, Brontophobia, Keraunophobia
Astraphobia, also known as Brontophobia, Keraunophobia, or Tonitrophobia, is an abnormal fear of thunder and lightning, a type of a specific phobia. It is quite common in dogs and children. Symptoms of Astraphobia can be breathing difficulty, panic attacks, rapid heartbeat, nausea, and sweating. These symptoms can manifest as a tantrum or fit and might be easy to dismiss as such. However, a genuine phobia can cause the feelings mentioned above to be completely overwhelming. Children may act out because they cannot cope with these symptoms and know why they are happening.
Autophobia (or Monophobia) is the phobia of being alone. Autophobia is a real personality disorder. The term describes three different conditions: A fear of being alone, A fear of being egotistical, and A fear of oneself. The third is the rarest of these conditions.
Aviophobia, Aviatophobia
Fear of flying is a fear of being on a plane while in flight. It is sometimes called aerophobia, aviatophobia, aviophobia, or pteromerhanophobia. Fear of flying may be a distinct phobia in itself, or it may be an indirect manifestation of one or more other phobias, such as claustrophobia (a fear of enclosed spaces) or acrophobia (a fear of heights). It may have other causes as well. It is a symptom rather than a disease; different causes may bring it about in different individuals. A fear of flying is a level of anxiety so great that it prevents a person from traveling by air or causes great distress to a person when they are compelled to travel by air. The most extreme manifestations can include panic attacks or vomiting at the mere sight or mention of an aircraft or air travel.
Bacillophobia, Bacteriophobia, Microbiophobia
Fear of microbes and bacteria. A person with bacteriophobia may have trouble getting rid of the fear of germs and is always worried about hygiene. Microphobia is similar to bacteriophobia as it is a morbid fear of small things such as microorganisms or germs.
Dislike of bisexuals. Biphobia is a term used to describe the fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against bisexuality or LGBT people who are bisexual or perceived as bisexual.
Prejudice against artificial substances in favor of natural substances. Chemophobia means "fear of chemicals" and may be used in various ways. It is most often used to describe the assumption that "chemicals" are bad and "natural" things are good.
Fear of bats, sometimes called chiroptophobia (an incorrect derivation from the order Chiroptera of bats) may refer both to a specific phobia associated with bats and to common negative stereotypes and fear of bats stemming from prejudices and misinformation.
Cibophobia, Sitophobia
Aversion to food, synonymous to Anorexia nervosa. A slow build occurs when a mild case of Cibophobia escalates over time to become a severe one. What is happening here is that the individual is 'accumulating' fearful associations to food or eating so that the evidence used by the mind and nervous system is becoming increasingly irrefutable that fear is the appropriate emotion. That means that anxiety is created automatically in anticipation each time... creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Fear of confined spaces. Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder that involves the fear of enclosed or confined spaces. Claustrophobes may suffer from panic attacks or fear of having a panic attack in situations such as being in elevators, trains, or aircraft. It was found that 5-10.6% of people screened before an MRI scan had claustrophobia. Furthermore, it was found that 7% of patients had unidentified claustrophobia and had to terminate the scanning procedure prematurely. 30% reported milder distress due to the necessity to lie in a confined space for a long time. There is a lifetime prevalence rate of 7.2%-11.3% for specific phobias. Other forms of Claustrophobia include conditions such as Agoraphobia and panic attacks.
Fear of clowns (not restricted to evil clowns). Coulrophobia is an abnormal or exaggerated fear of clowns. It is not uncommon among children but is sometimes found in teenagers and adults. Sufferers sometimes acquire a fear of clowns after having a bad experience with one personally or seeing a sinister portrayal of one in the media. A design study by the University of Sheffield found that children are frightened by clown-themed decor in hospitals. This fear can arise from seeing a clown in person or pictures.
Fear of dogs. Cynophobia is the clinical name for an abnormal fear of dogs. The dog is a domesticated super-predator; this, in combination with increasing media coverage of dog attacks, could be contributing factors to development of this fear.
Dental phobia, Dentophobia, Odontophobia
Fear of dentists and dental procedures. Dental fear refers to the fear of dentistry and of receiving dental care. A pathological form of this fear (specific phobia) is a dental phobia, odontophobia, dentophobia, dentist phobia, or dental anxiety. It is estimated that as many as 75% of US adults experience some degree of dental fear, from mild to severe. Many people report that their dental fear began after a traumatic, difficult, and painful dental experience. Dental fear may also develop as people hear about others' traumatic experiences or negative views of dentistry.
Dysmorphophobia, or body dysmorphic disorder
a phobic obsession with a real or imaginary body defect.
Fear of vomiting. Emetophobia is the irrational fear of vomiting, being around others who are vomiting, and the vomit itself. In worst-case scenarios, people with the phobia tend to avoid eating out, socializing, and attending parties. They may hardly eat at all, and that's why many are often diagnosed as anorexic but not bulimic, as this illness involves the induction of vomiting. Emetophobics will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid becoming violently sick.
(Also known as insectophobia) - The abnormal fear of or aversion to insects and similar arthropods, and even other "bugs," such as worms.
fFear or dislike of youth. The irrational fear of youth is called ephebiphobia. First coined as the "fear and loathing of teenagers," today, the phenomenon is recognized as the "inaccurate, exaggerated, and sensational characterization of young people" in various settings worldwide.
Equinophobia, Hippophobia
Fear of horses. Equinophobia is a psychological fear of horses.
Ergasiophobia, Ergophobia
Fear of work or functioning, or a surgeon's fear of operating. An abnormal and persistent fear of work. Sufferers of ergophobia experience undue anxiety about the workplace environment even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their fear may be a combination of fears, such as failing at assigned tasks, speaking before groups at work, or socializing with co-workers.The fear of work or functioning (also a surgeon's fear of operating) can result in the following symptoms:
breathlessness, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think, a fear of becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full-blown anxiety attack.
Fear of sexual love or sexual questions. Erotophobia is a term used by psychologists to describe sexuality on a personality scale. Erotophobes score high on one end of the scale, characterized by expressions of guilt and fear about sex. Erotophobes are less likely to talk about sex, have more negative reactions to sexually explicit material, and have sex less frequently and with fewer partners over time. Erotophobia can also be the fear of marriage or romantic relationships, especially by a man or in regards to heterosexual romance.
Pathological blushing. Erythrophobia is an unusual and persistent fear of Facial Blushing or blushing in general. Blushing displays a marked redness of one's face. The term is seldom applied except when the redness is construed as a result of embarrassment, shame, or modesty. If redness persists for abnormal amounts of time after blushing, it is considered an early sign of rosacea. Many who try to hide blushing usually end up making the condition even worse.
Genophobia, Coitophobia
Fear of sexual intercourse. This phobia may be caused by actual sexual trauma (such as rape or molestation, especially at an early age) or by witnessing a traumatic sexual act in real life or the media.
Fear of bridges. Gephyrophobia is an anxiety disorder brought about by the fear of bridges. As a result, people living with gephyrophobia may avoid routes that will take them over bridges.
Fear of growing old or hatred of the elderly.
Glossophobia or speech anxiety is the fear of public speaking. It is believed to be the most common phobia affecting as much as 75% of the population. Fear of oration is ranked even above that of death.
Fear of nudity. Gymnophobics experience anxiety from nudity, even if they realize their fear is irrational. They may worry about seeing others naked, being seen naked, or both. Their fear may stem from a general anxiety about sexuality, from a fear that they are physically inferior, or from a fear that their nakedness leaves them exposed and unprotected.
Fear of women (also spelled as gynephobia) is an abnormal fear of women. Gynophobia used to be considered among the driving forces toward homosexuality.
A fear of being touched, also called aphephobia, haphephobia, or thixophobia.
Heliophobia, Heliophobic
Aversion to sunlight.
Fear of sunlight. Heliophobia is a problem that afflicts hundreds of Americans but suffers from a lack of proper research. The Pacific Health Center suggested that many people have been staying away from the sun because of growing fears about skin cancer. This is not technically heliophobia, simply an unfounded and illogical solution.
Hemophobia, Haemophobia
Fear of blood. Hemophobia is the extreme and irrational fear of blood. Acute cases of this fear can cause uncommon physical reactions in most other fears, specifically vasovagal syncope (fainting). People with hemophobia are usually afraid of seeing their blood; rarely, they dread other persons' or animals' blood.
The fear of reptiles, amphibians or other similar animals.
Fear or dislike of heterosexuals.
Fear of the number 666. (literally, "fear of the number six-hundred and sixty-six") is the fear that originates in the Biblical verse Revelation 13:18, which indicates that the number 666 is the Number of the Beast, linked to Satan or the Anti-Christ.
Aversion to homosexuality or fear of homosexuals.
Aversion to firearms or firearms owners.
Fear of weapons, specifically firearms. Irrational, morbid fear of guns may cause sweating, faintness, discomfort, rapid pulse, nausea, sleeplessness, and more at the mere thought of guns.
Hydrophobia, Hydrophobic
A property of being repelled by water.
Fear of water (a symptom of rabies).
Fear of doctors - Doctor visits can cause anxiety in nearly anyone. For some people, however, normal anxiety gives way to outright panic. Iatrophobia, or fear of doctors, is surprisingly common today.
Fear of fish. Although the term technically refers to a specific phobia, in many contexts, it may refer to any fear of fish, such as fear of eating fish or fear of dead fish. Galeophobia is a subtype of ichthyophobia specifically focused on one species, sharks.
Fear of loud noises. Phonophobia (also called ligyrophobia) is a fear of loud sounds. It can also mean a fear of voices or a fear of one's voice.
A property of fat rejection. Lipophobicity, sometimes called lipophobia, is a chemical property of chemical compounds that means "fat rejection." Lipophobic compounds are those not soluble in lipids or other non-polar solvents. From the other point of view, they do not absorb or adsorb fats.
The fear of poetry. Many people first develop this phobia in school when overzealous teachers encourage them to rank poems according to artificial scales, break them down, and search for esoteric meanings.
Fear of mice and rats. Fear of mice and rats is one of the most common specific phobias. An exaggerated, phobic fear of mice and rats has traditionally been depicted as a stereotypical trait of women, with numerous books, cartoons, television shows, and films portraying hysterical women screaming and jumping atop chairs or tables at the sight of a mouse.
Fear of germs, contamination or dirt. More commonly known as "germaphobia" or "germ phobia," it is a pathological fear of germs, dirt, and contamination. Mysophobia is common in the United States. Some experts link the growing incidence of this disorder to Americans' general perception of the world as a dangerous, uncontrollable place.
Fear of death, the dead. Necrophobia is the fear of death or dead things (e.g., corpses) and things associated with death (e.g., coffins).
Neophobia, Cainophobia, Cainotophobia, Cenophobia, Centophobia, Kainolophobia, Kainophobia
An abnormal and persistent fear of anything new including new things, ideas or situations, of novelty.
Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. More than 13 million Brits fear being out of mobile phone contact, according to research. Experts say nomophobia could affect up to 53 percent of mobile phone users, with 48 percent of women and 58 percent of men questioned admitting to experiencing feelings of anxiety when they run out of battery or credit, lose their phone, or have no network coverage.
Fear of contracting a disease. It is related to hypochondriasis, but the two conditions have several important differences. The most important difference is specificity. A person with hypochondriasis has several physical symptoms that they fear may be caused by illness. Someone with nosophobia, however, is afraid of a specific disease and becomes convinced that they have the symptoms of that particular disease.
Nyctophobia, Achluophobia, Lygophobia, Scotophobia
Fear of darkness. Nyctophobia is a pathological fear of the dark. Its symptoms include breathlessness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, or sensation of detachment from reality and death. Fear of the dark is common in children and often passes as they mature. If it persists for more than six months, fear of the dark should be professionally treated, as it can become crippling in older children and adults.
Ophidiophobia or Ophiophobia refers to the fear of snakes. A more general term sometimes calls fear of snakes, herpetophobia, or fear of reptiles.
Fear of birds. Ornithophobia is a specific phobia, an abnormal, irrational fear of birds.
Osmophobia, Olfactophobia
Fear of smells. Osmophobia or olfactophobia refers to fear, aversion, or psychological hypersensitivity to smells or odors. The phobia generally occurs in chronic migraine sufferers who may have odor-triggered migraines. Foul odors most frequently trigger such migraines, but the hypersensitivity may extend to all odors. One study found as many as 25% of migraine sufferers had some degree of osmophobia.
Hypersensitivity to smells causing aversion to odors. Common during pregnancy.
Fear of everything or constantly afraid without knowing what is causing it. Also known as omniphobia or pantophobia, it is the fear of everything or a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil.
Paraskavedekatriaphobia, Paraskevidekatriaphobia, Friggatriskaidekaphobia
Fear of Friday the 13th. If you base your belief on media attention, superstition about Friday the 13th might be the number one superstition in America today.
Fear or dislike of children.
Fear of loud sounds.
Hypersensitivity to sound causing aversion to sounds. common during an alcohol hangover or migraine.
Photophobia, Photophobic
A negative phototaxis or phototropism response.
Hypersensitivity to light causing aversion to light (a symptom of Meningitis and a common condition of migraine headaches). Photophobia is a symptom of excessive sensitivity to light and an aversion to sunlight or well-lit places. In medical terms, it is not fear but an experience of discomfort or pain to the eyes due to light exposure.
Prejudice and discrimination against mentally ill. Psychophobia is fear of prejudice or discrimination against the mentally ill. Over history, the mentally ill have been accused of being possessed by demons or the devil or of being witches or warlocks, or devil worshipers. In modern times when psychology was developed, it was found that such people had a mental illness and no demons or any other explanations mentioned above. Yet, the fear of the mentally ill continues.
The hate, abnormal, or even irrational fear of fires or high temperatures.
Fear of radioactivity or X-rays. Radiophobia is an abnormal fear of ionizing radiation, also used in the sense of fear of X-rays. The term is used in several related senses: about a neurological disorder, to a specific phobia, and (polemically, not medically) to general opposition to the use of nuclear energy.
Fear of frogs. Fear of frogs and toads has been recorded in the history of many cultures. For example, seeing a frog may be a bad omen, or frogs and toads may give a person warts. At the same time, in other cultures, frogs are considered a good omen. A survey by researchers from the Johannesburg Zoo has shown that old superstitions play a less significant role in modern times, and modern children are more concerned about whether frogs are poisonous or harmless.
Fear or dislike of society or people in general. Social anxiety is a term used to describe an experience of anxiety (emotional discomfort, fear, apprehension, or worry) regarding social situations and being evaluated by other people. It occurs early in childhood as a normal part of social functioning. People vary in how often they experience social anxiety or in which kinds of situations. It can be related to shyness or other emotional or temperamental factors, but its exact nature is still the subject of research and theory. Extreme social anxiety can be disabling and may be diagnosed as a social anxiety disorder (social phobia).
Fear of the grave, or fear of being placed in a grave while still alive. Fear of being buried alive is the fear of being placed in a grave while still alive due to being incorrectly pronounced dead. The abnormal, psychopathological version of this fear is referred to as taphophobia (from Greek taphos, meaning "grave"), which is translated as "fear of graves." Before the advent of modern medicine, fear was not entirely irrational. Throughout history, there have been numerous cases of people being accidentally buried alive.
Fear of technology. Technophobia is the fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers.
Fear of the number 4. Tetraphobia is an aversion or fear of the number 4. It is a superstition most common in East Asian regions such as China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The Chinese word for four (pinyin) sounds very similar to the word for death.
Aversion to heat. Thermophobic is used to describe an intolerance for high temperatures by either inorganic material or organisms.
Fear of childbirth. Primary tokophobia is the fear of childbirth which pre-dates pregnancy and can start in adolescence.
Secondary tokophobia is due to a previous negative experience regarding traumatic birth, poor obstetric practice or medical attention, postpartum depression, or other such upsetting events.
Fear or dislike of transgender or transsexual people. Transphobia (or, less commonly, transprejudice) refers to discrimination against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people based on the expression of their internal gender identity.
Triskaidekaphobia, Terdekaphobia
Fear of the number 13. Terdekaphobia is an irrational fear of the number 13; it is a superstition related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.
Trypanophobia, Aichmophobia, Belonephobia, Enetophobia
Fear of needles or injections. Trypanophobia is the extreme and irrational fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It is occasionally referred to as aichmophobia, belonephobia, or enetophobia. These names are technically incorrect because they denote a "fear of pins/needles" and do not refer to the medical aspect of trypanophobia. The name that is in common usage is simply needle phobia.
A fear of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps, is a condition which can trigger people to experience an emotional reaction when viewing images of clusters of objects, usually holes such as honeycomb, ant holes, coral, etc. Researchers hypothesize that it is the result of a biological revulsion that associates trypophobic shapes with danger or disease and may therefore have an evolutionary basis. Trypophobia is not officially recognized as a mental disorder.
Fear of strangers, foreigners, or aliens. Xenophobia is a fear or contempt of that which is foreign or unknown, especially of strangers or foreign people.
Fear or dislike of foreigners.
Aversion to dryness.
A generic term for animal phobias. Zoophobia or animal phobia may have one of two closely related meanings: a generic term for the class of specific phobias to particular animals or an irrational fear or even dislike of any non-human animals.

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