- afraid (adj.)
- "impressed with fear, fearful," early 14c., originally the past participle of the now-obsolete Middle English verb afray "frighten," from Anglo-French afrayer, Old French esfreer "to worry, concern, trouble, disturb" (see affray (n.)). A rare case of an English adjective that never stands before a noun. Because it was used in the King James Bible, it acquired independent standing and thrived while affray faded, and it chased off the once more common afeared. Colloquial sense in I'm afraid "I regret to say, I suspect" (without implication of fear, as a polite introduction to a correction, admission, etc.) is first recorded 1590s.
Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone [Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes," 1820]