Phobias and Their Names

by Anne Windermere Patient Advocate

The National Institute of Mental Health defines a phobia as an intense and irrational fear of something which poses little to no danger. This surely is not the way it feels to the person who has the phobia. I should know because I have several phobias which include the fear of heights, travel by airplane, and public speaking. I know that I am not alone in having phobias. In fact it is estimated that 19.2 million American adults also have these intense fears of specific objects or events. Even celebrities have phobias as I have written about in a previous post. Phobias can range from common fears such as the fear of heights to the unusual such as Billy Bob Thorton's fear of antique furniture. In this post we are going to tell you the names of both common and unusual phobias and what they mean.

If you care to add to the list please do so in the form of a comment.

Uncommon Phobias:

  • Chromophobia: The fear of intense colors. Turns out that Billy Bob Thorton is not just afraid of antique furniture but he also can't stand bright colors or plastic cutlery.

  • Coulrophobia: The fear of clowns. I can kinda relate to this one. What clown is not creepy? Remember the Stephen King movie, IT, on TV? The clown was an evil demon posing as a child-killing clown. It was enough to make you swear off the circus for years. But what was the spider at the end about? I am still puzzling over that ending after all these years. Johnny Depp and P. Diddy are two celebrities who openly admit to their fear clowns. Wonder how they would feel about an evil clown who turns into a giant spider?

  • Chiclephobia: If you guessed the fear of chiclets you were close. This one means the fear of chewing gum. Right now I could be scaring Oprah who is rumored to have a chewing gum phobia based upon her grandmother's penchant for putting gum on her furniture to save it. Now where should I put this gum?

  • Gallophobia: The fear of France and French culture. This doesn't include French fries does it? It would make sense, however, to include a fear and dislike of French mimes.

  • Limnophobia: The Fear of Lakes. I wonder if there is one about the fear of movies about Lake Houses starring Keanu Reeves.

  • Gnomophobia: The fear of garden gnomes. Evidently some burglars may fear garden gnomes because some people, including elderly grandmothers are using them in self defense. According to [news reports] Jean Collop who lives in Wadebridge, southwest England found an intruder on her roof and her first instinct was to grab a garden gnome. The elderly grandmother did hurl the garden gnome at the intruder who she described as laying there and screaming following her direct hit. She then went back into the kitchen to find a rolling pin because she didn't want to break another gnome.
    I don't blame her.

  • Peladophobia: The fear of bald people. Does it matter if they are wearing a hat? Would a toupee make them even scarier?

  • Pentheraphobia: Fear of mothers-in-law. I wonder if this means only the persons mother-in-law or all mother-in-laws including ones on TV. That Bunny from Sex in the City was pretty darn scary. Or how about Marie from Everybody Loves Raymond?

  • Venustraphobia: The fear of beautiful women. It is also the name of an album by Casbah Club released in 2006.

Common Phobias - The fear of heights is called Acrophobia. If you have this phobia you may want to read about treating your fear of heights.

  • The fear of flying in an airplane is called aerophobia. This is one on my list. I wrote about my experience battling my airplane phobia in a piece I wrote called, Phobic Adventures: Fearful and Flying.

  • The fear of going to the dentist or receiving dental care is called dentophobia. Some estimates show that 5-10% of the population have this fear and most times it is caused by a traumatic experience in the dentist's office. If you have this phobia you may want to read, Treating Your Fear of the Dentist.

  • If you are afraid of needles your phobia is called Belonephobia. It is estimated that as much as 10% of the population has a needle phobia.

  • People fearful of public speaking are said to have glossophobia. Harrison Ford is one celebrity who has described public speaking as "a mixed bag of terror and anxiety." I am sure many of us can relate.

For more information about phobias and the treatment of phobias please refer to these Anxiety Connection articles:

Anne Windermere
Meet Our Writer
Anne Windermere

These articles were written by a longtime HealthCentral community member who shared valuable insights from her experience living with multiple chronic health conditions. She used the pen name "Merely Me."