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Scared vs. Scarred: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 22, 2024
"Scared" describes a feeling of fear or being frightened, while "scarred" refers to having marks or emotional wounds from past injuries or experiences.

Key Differences

"Scared" is an adjective that describes the emotional state of being afraid or frightened. People feel scared in situations where there is a threat or something unexpected happens. This term is commonly used in everyday language to describe a temporary state of fear. "Scarred," on the other hand, is also an adjective but describes a state resulting from an injury or a traumatic experience. It indicates a permanent mark or damage, either physical, such as a wound that has healed, leaving a scar, or emotional, such as lasting psychological impact from a distressing event.
When someone is scared, they experience a temporary emotion that can dissipate once the threat is gone. This term is often associated with reactions to immediate stimuli, such as a loud noise or a scary movie. In contrast, being scarred implies a longer-lasting or even permanent condition. Physical scars are visible marks left after the skin has healed, while emotional scars are the lingering effects of trauma that can affect a person’s mental health and behavior over time.
Scared is a momentary feeling and can be overcome quickly as the situation changes. It’s an acute response to fear-inducing events. Scarred, however, suggests a deeper and more enduring impact, often requiring time and sometimes professional help to heal.
A person can be scared without any lasting impact, but if someone is scarred, it implies that they carry the signs or consequences of past injuries or experiences. Scared is about present fear, while scarred is about past damage.

Comparison Chart


Feeling fear or fright
Having lasting marks or emotional wounds


Long-lasting or permanent


Immediate reaction to a threat
Result of past injury or trauma

Emotional Impact

Short-term anxiety
Long-term psychological effect

Example Usage

"She felt scared during the storm."
"He was scarred from the accident."

Scared and Scarred Definitions


Feeling fear or anxiety.
She felt scared when the lights went out suddenly.


Emotionally affected by a traumatic event.
She was scarred by the tragic loss of her friend.


Afraid of something specific.
He was scared of the dark as a child.


Marked by a physical scar from an injury.
His arm was scarred from the surgery.


Experiencing a strong emotion of fright.
The dog looked scared during the fireworks.


Bearing visible marks of past wounds.
The landscape was scarred by the wildfire.


Reacting with fear to a situation.
The children were scared by the ghost stories.


Having lingering psychological effects.
Many veterans are scarred by their wartime experiences.


Having a fear-induced reaction.
She was so scared that she couldn't speak.


A mark left on the skin after a surface injury or wound has healed.


To strike with sudden fear; alarm.


A lingering sign of damage or injury, either mental or physical
Nightmares, anxiety, and other enduring scars of wartime experiences.


To become frightened
A child who scares easily.


(Botany) A mark indicating a former attachment, as of a leaf to a stem.


A condition or sensation of sudden fear
That mask gave me a real scare.


A mark, such as a dent, resulting from use or contact.


A general state of alarm; a panic
A bomb scare that necessitated evacuating the building.


To mark with a scar.


Serving or intended to frighten people
Scare stories.
Scare tactics.


To leave lasting signs of damage on
A wretched childhood that scarred his psyche.


Feeling fear; afraid, frightened.


To form a scar
The pustule healed and scarred.


Simple past tense and past participle of scare


To become scarred
Delicate skin that scars easily.


Made afraid;
The frightened child cowered in the corner
Too shocked and scared to move


Simple past tense and past participle of scar


Having a scar or scars.


Deeply affected or marked by mental or physical pain or injury;
Could her scarred mind ever be free of fear?
A face scarred by anxiety
The fire left her arm badly scarred


Blemished by injury or rough wear;
The scarred piano bench
Walls marred by graffiti


Showing evidence of damage or harm.
The city was scarred from years of conflict.


Is being scared a temporary feeling?

Yes, being scared is usually a temporary emotion.

What does "scared" mean?

"Scared" means feeling fear or anxiety.

What causes someone to feel scared?

Threats, danger, or unexpected events can cause someone to feel scared.

What is an example of feeling scared?

Feeling scared could be reacting to a sudden loud noise.

Can scars be emotional as well as physical?

Yes, scars can be both physical and emotional.

How long do emotional scars last?

Emotional scars can last for years or even a lifetime.

What might cause someone to be emotionally scarred?

Traumatic events, such as accidents or loss, can cause emotional scarring.

Can "scared" be used to describe animals?

Yes, animals can be described as scared, such as a dog scared by thunder.

What does "scarred" mean?

"Scarred" means having lasting marks or emotional wounds from past injuries or experiences.

Can physical scars heal completely?

Physical scars can fade over time but often remain to some degree.

Are children more easily scared?

Yes, children can be more easily scared due to their developing understanding of the world.

What are the signs of being emotionally scarred?

Signs can include anxiety, depression, and behavioral changes.

What are some synonyms for "scared"?

Synonyms include afraid, frightened, and terrified.

Can someone be scared and scarred at the same time?

Yes, someone can be scared by a current event and also carry scars from past experiences.

Is it possible to recover from being emotionally scarred?

Recovery is possible with time, support, and sometimes professional help.

Do scars always cause pain?

Physical scars may cause pain initially, but not always long-term; emotional scars can cause ongoing psychological pain.

Does "scarred" always imply visible marks?

No, scarred can refer to both visible and invisible (emotional) marks.

Is "scared" a common feeling?

Yes, being scared is a common human experience.

What are some synonyms for "scarred"?

Synonyms include marked, damaged, and wounded.

Can a person appear calm but still be scared?

Yes, a person can hide their fear and appear calm externally.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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