Scared or Scarred – What’s the Difference?

If you are afraid, are you scarred or scared?

On the other hand, if you have skin damage from wounds that have healed, are you scared or scarred?

These words are spelled very similarly, but they mean different things.

What is the Difference Between Scared and Scarred?

In this post, I will compare scarred vs. scared. I will use each of these words in an example sentence, so you can see how they appear in context. I will also show you a memory tool that makes choosing scared or scarred a simple task.

When to Use Scared

scared versus scarredWhat does scared mean? Scared can be an adjective or a verb.

As an adjective, scared is a synonym of afraid and frightened.

For example,

  • My son Edgar is scared of the dark, and also of his little sister.
  • The dog next store is scared of our cat, which makes their backyard meetings hilarious.

Scared is also the past tense form of the verb scare, which means to frighten.

For example,

  • Aimee’s reckless driving scared her friends, who refused to ride in her car anymore.
  • Ginger scared her parents on Halloween by dressing up as Courtney Love.

Scare is a regular verb, so it can be conjugated according to the standard rules for verbs in English.

Conjugations of Scare:

  • I/we scare: first person singular/plural present
  • You scare: second person singular/plural present
  • He/she/it scares: third person singular present
  • They scare: third person plural present
  • Scaring: present participle
  • Scared: simple past

When to Use Scarred

definition of scared definition of scarredWhat does scarred mean? Scarred also functions as an adjective or a verb. A scar is a mark left by an injury to the skin, so the adjective scarred means having these marks. Scarred can also be used figuratively; the phrase scarred for life often refers to long-term psychological trauma.

For example,

  • The attack on my life has left me disfigured and scarred, but my resolve has never been stronger.
  • Accidentally seeing his little sister kissing her classmate left Benny scarred for life.

As a verb, scarred is the past tense of the verb scar, which means to leave permanent marks on the skin from previous injuries. Here are some examples:

  • The surgery scarred Asher’s legs, but he was happy to have his fracture repaired.
  • The knife wound scarred the skin on Kari’s back, but the betrayal hurt even worse.

Conjugations of Scar:

  • I/we scar: first person singular/plural present
  • You scar: second person singular/plural present
  • He/she/it scars: third person singular present
  • They scar: third person plural present
  • Scarring: present participle
  • Scarred: simple past

Trick to Remember the Difference

scarring or scaring These words are only one letter apart, but they have stark differences in meaning. So that you don’t get these confused in your future writing, let’s go over a trick to remember scared vs. scarred.

  • If you are afraid, you are scared.
  • If you are damaged from prior wounds, you are scarred.

If you can remember that the words scared and afraid both contain just one R, you can remember the difference between these two words.

This same difference applies to the words scaring and scarring.


Is it scared or scarred? Despite their spelling similarities, these words are never interchangeable.

  • Scared means afraid or frightened, or is a past tense form of the verb scare.
  • Scarred means damaged by prior wounds or is a past tense form of the verb scar.