Nightmare definitions

nīt'mâr'
An event or experience that is intensely distressing.
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A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress.
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An evil spirit believed to haunt and suffocate sleeping people.
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A demon or spirit once thought to plague sleeping people.
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A frightening dream, often accompanied by a sensation of oppression and helplessness.
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Any experience like a nightmare in its terrifying or distressing aspects.
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A dream arousing feelings of intense fear, horror, and distress.
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An event or experience that is intensely distressing.
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The definition of a nightmare is a bad dream, or an experience that is like a bad dream.

An example of a nightmare is a dream of a monster that wakes a child.

An example of a nightmare is a family having a flat tire on a busy freeway.

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(now rare) A female demon or monster, thought to plague people while they slept and cause a feeling of suffocation and terror during sleep.
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A very bad or frightening dream.

I had a nightmare that I tried to run but could neither move nor breathe.

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(figuratively) Any bad, miserable, difficult or terrifying situation or experience that arouses anxiety, terror, agony or great displeasure.

Cleaning up after identity theft can be a nightmare of phone calls and letters.

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Origin of nightmare

From Middle English nightemare, niȝtmare, equivalent to night +"Ž mare (“evil spirit believed to afflict a sleeping person"). Cognate with Scots nichtmare, nichtmeer (“nightmare"), Dutch nachtmerrie (“nightmare"), Middle Low German nachtmār (“nightmare"), German Nachtmahr (“nightmare").