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Posted: 30 December 2014
Updated: 09 August 2018

Failure to do something out of fear

Stack Exchange

Question from English Language & Usage on Stack Exchange

I’m looking for a word that implies that one intended to do something but then didn’t due to being afraid. Like someone who never asks out a person of interest because of the fears of rejection or loss of a friend. Hesitate is close, but to me it implies that the action will happen eventually, and I want the word to mean that the person never goes through with it because he or she is so afraid (its synonyms seem to have the same implications). Is there a word in English that means a complete failure to go through with something out of fear?

My answer

[Read, comment, and vote on my answer at Stack Exchange]

  1. Ahmed was paralyzed by fear.
  2. The prospect of talking to her professor haunted Janice.
  3. Cowed and defeated, the soldiers returned to their bunker.
  4. Trembling, ashamed, broken, and brokenhearted, Peter retreated to the safety of his books.
  5. Pacing, sitting, standing, fretting, cursing the rain: he could find no solace for his ambivalence and no justification for his cowardice.

I hope those provide some inspiration.