What Scares You the Most?


The standalone word phobia derives from the Greek suffix; meaning “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something”; the suffix then passed through Latin and subsequently became an independent word.

Today we still use phobia both as a suffix and independently. As a suffix, it is often added to other Latin or Greek words that indicate what the fear is of; normally creating words that sound more like a spell from our Harry Potter article than a word we might come across in day-to-day language!

Instead of hiding from our phobias in the Intrawelt offices, we sought them out and confronted them head on, here is what we found:

Ornithophobia, perhaps familiar to those of us who have watched a certain episode of a certain science-themed American sit-com, is an irrational fear of birds. Warning: this fear has lead members of our EN Revisions team to walk round teaching people to say ‘io odio piccioni’ (I hate pigeons).

Cnidophobia, giving away as many clues as the previous phobia name, this is the word that defines a fear of insect stings. Watch out for those wasps!

So, what about other fears?

  • The word hippophobia would lead most people to thinking it is a fear of hippos. Wrong! It is actually a fear of horses; “hippos” is the Greek word for horse.
  • Staying in the animal kingdom, anybody know what ichthyophobia is? Don’t like scaly company in the sea, don’t eat meat but couldn’t be pescatarian either… ichthyophobia is a fear of… fish! From the Greek word for fish: ichth?s.

As for things people encounter on a day-to-day basis there’s:

  • Photophobia – nope it’s not a fear of photographs, but if you’re following the logic of how the different phobia words are formed, you’ll have worked out it’s a fear of light, again from the Greek!
  • Pyrophobia – is perhaps easier to work out, pyro is the Greek word for fire. Fire/phobia. If you’re not scared of fire, perhaps you could warn off your nyctophobia with some pyrotechnics. Nyctophobia is a fear of the night, perhaps more common than we think.
  • Ever hear of hadephobia? Hades, the Greek God of the underworld, underworld a synonym for hell. Yes, you guessed it! Hadephobia is the fear of hell! To avoid the underworld perhaps it would be useful to sort out a case of ergophobia… the fear of work!

Now, there is evidence the following word has come from Greek through Latin, and we think this is the worst fear that we could be faced with: cibophobia! If you know any Italian you know cibo means food: a fear, of food!

Although some of us in the Intrawelt office may be scared of pigeons or insect bites we can assure you that ergophobia (and cibophobia) are definitely not fears of ours!

Have a good day, and face your fears!

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