Meaning of “nightmare” in the English Dictionary

"nightmare" in British English

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nightmarenoun [ C ]

uk /ˈnaɪt.meər/ us /ˈnaɪt.mer/

B1 a very upsetting or frightening dream:

a terrifying nightmare
I shouldn't have watched that movie - it'll give me nightmares.

B1 an extremely unpleasant event or experience or possible event or experience:

The whole journey was a nightmare - we lost our luggage and both flights were delayed.
Being trapped underwater is my worst nightmare.

More examples

  • LeFanu suffered all his life from a recurrent nightmare that he was trapped in a falling house.
  • Strange dreams and nightmares oppressed him.
  • Working there was like being trapped in a nightmare.
  • I had a terrible nightmare last night.
  • Nightmares may occur in times of severe tension.
adjective uk /ˈnaɪt.meə.rɪʃ/ us /ˈnaɪt.mer.ɪʃ/

a nightmarish traffic jam
adverb uk /ˈnaɪt.meə.rɪʃ.li/ us /ˈnaɪt.mer.ɪʃ.li/

(Definition of “nightmare” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"nightmare" in American English

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nightmarenoun [ C ]

us /ˈnɑɪtˌmeər/
adjective us /ˈnɑɪtˌmer·ɪʃ, -ˌmær-/

a nightmarish traffic jam

(Definition of “nightmare” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)