Paranoid Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

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Do you ever feel as though people are “out to get you” or that you’re the subject of persistent, intrusive attention by others? 

Although it’s normal to sometimes feel a bit wary of others, an intense feeling of mistrust that interferes with daily functioning can be a sign of paranoid personality disorder (PPD). 

What does “paranoid” mean, you ask? We’ll tell you. Read on as we explore the word paranoid and uncover its definition, origin, and more.  

What Is the Definition of Paranoid?

/ˈper.ə.nɔɪd/ /ˈpær.ən.ɔɪd/ /pærənɔɪd/ /ˈpærəˌnɔɪd/

The Collins English Dictionary tells us that paranoid can be used as both a noun as well as an adjective, and below, you will find the definition on both uses of our word of the day:

  • Adjective — characterized by delusions of persecution, extreme suspiciousness, and/or anxiety 
  • Adjective — (in relation to psychiatry) affected with, relating to, or having characteristics of paranoia. 
  • Noun —an individual that is affected by or suffering from paranoia 
  • Adjective — characterized by or exhibiting an irrational, as well as an extreme distrust and downright fear of others 

Simply stated, the meaning of paranoid is having illusions about being persecuted or followed, being overly suspicious of everything and everyone around you, and/or always being afraid of others and being unable to trust anyone but yourself. 

Paranoia and Mental Health

In addition, “paranoid,” or more aptly put — paranoia — can be one of the various symptoms of serious mental health problems, such as: 

  • PPD or Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Delusional Disorder 
  • Paranoid Schizophrenia 

Symptoms of paranoia can include:

  • Being hostile, defensive, and/or aggressive

  • More often than not, one is easily offended

  • Lack of the ability to confide and/or trust others around you

  • Reading into a person’s normal behavior and trying to find hidden meanings

  • The inability to forgive, accept criticism and/or compromise

  • Having trouble letting your guard down or relaxing; believing that, above all, you are always right 

What Is the Word Origin of Paranoid?

Paranoid was first noted in 1901 as an adjective when it was irregularly formed from paranoi + -oid, and it was not until 1922 that it was used as a noun to describe a “paranoid person.” 

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Paranoid?

A great way to expand your understanding of a new word is by reviewing its synonyms and antonyms. 

A synonym is a word or expression that means the same — or nearly the same — as another word or expression, whereas an antonym is a word opposite in meaning to another. 

The Synonyms of Paranoid

Synonyms of paranoid include:

  • Overcareful  
  • Overcautious
  • Judicious  
  • Provident  
  • Shrewd
  • Thoughtful
  • Discriminating
  • Forethoughtful
  • Precautious  
  • Loath
  • On your toes 
  • With eyes peeled 
  • On the watch 
  • Running hot and cold
  • Hedging your bets 
  • Territorial
  • Not sure 
  • Worried
  • Skittish  
  • Unsatisfied
  • Suspect  
  • Not believing 
  • Solicitous
  • Unenlightened  
  • Mad as the march fairies 
  • Timid
  • Narrow-minded
  • Unimpressed
  • Unmoved
  • Unpersuaded  
  • Vexed  
  • Confused  
  • Curious
  • Misbelieving
  • Inquisitive  
  • Minimifidian
  • Non-believing
  • Pussyfooting
  • Squeamish
  • Dainty  
  • Have misgivings
  • Have reservations 
  • Unassured  
  • Not quite right in the head
  • Awake
  • Perceptive  
  • A few sandwiches short of a picnic  
  • Prying
  • Wishy-washy  
  • Unfinished  
  • Non-compos mentis 
  • Pendent  
  • Inquisitorial  
  • Nosy
  • Interrogative  
  • In the middle searching
  • Out of one’s mind 
  •  Disillusioned  
  • Disenchanted 
  • World-weary  
  • Hard-bitten  
  • Ambiguous  
  • Having qualms 
  • Hard-boiled
  • Non-committal 
  • Keeping a weather eye on
  • Walking on eggs
  • Belt-and-braces
  • On the qui vive
  • Watching one’s step 
  • Watching out
  • All ears 
  • Walking on eggshells 
  • Thinking twice
  • Keeping on one’s toes 
  • Handling with kid gloves
  • Taking it slow
  • Afraid  
  • Averse
  • A few cards short of a full deck   
  • Disinclined
  • Not the full shilling 
  • Parsimonious
  • Stingy  
  • Thrifty
  • Inhibited
  • Not quite right in the head
  • Chancy  
  • Dicey  
  • Up in the air
  • Erratic  
  • Paranoiac 
  • Capricious
  • Whimsical
  • In the balance
  • Fluctuant
  • Touch-and-go
  • Incalculable
  • In the lap of the gods
  • Problematic
  • Risky 

Antonyms of Paranoid

Antonyms of paranoid include:

  • Trusting 
  • Sane 
  • Unshaken
  • Unruffled
  • Unperturbed 
  • Balanced 
  • Rational 
  • Sensible 
  • In one’s right mind 
  • Compos mentis 
  • Adjusted 
  • Believable
  • Realistic
  • Responsible 
  • Smart
  • Level headed
  • Well balanced
  • Together
  • All there
  • Alert
  • Stable
  • Thick-skinned
  • Callous
  • Heartless
  • Stolid
  • Uninvolved
  • Uninterested 
  • Open-minded 
  • Unanxious
  • Unstirred
  • Unbothered 

How Can You Use The Word Paranoid in a Sentence?

Our word of the day can be characterized by or resembling paranoia, but how can it be used in a sentence? Here are a few sentence examples for you to review below:

  • “It’s really all starting to make sense, with how my brother has acted all these years. He finally reached out to a mental health professional and was diagnosed with a mental health condition known as PPD or paranoid personality disorder.” 
  • “The aggressor was diagnosed by multiple psychiatrists as a paranoid schizophrenic and will likely plead insanity in his case.” 
  • “My daughter keeps having bouts of psychosis and is constantly struggling with paranoid thoughts, and I have no clue how to help her.” 
  • “I don’t mean to seem anxious… after Sam’s traumatic kidnapping from last year, I can’t help but feel paranoid every time I get into an Uber.”
  • “Don’t be paranoid — you’re in good company; I promise.”
  • “If Jenny gets a bad grade on her exam, her parents won’t let her go to Cancun… so she’ll probably be paranoid until the scores are out.”
  • “Look; I’m perfectly sane…I am just feeling a little paranoid that someone is watching me, okay?”

What Are Translations of Paranoid? 

Now that you understand the meaning and origin behind our word of the day, let’s review a few translations, shall we?

Translations of paranoid include: 

  • Afrikaans — Paranoïes
  • Arabic — المذعور
  • Bulgarian — Параноик
  • Chinese (simplified) — 偏执 
  • Croatian — Paranoičan
  • Czech — paranoidní
  • Danish — Paranoid
  • Dutch — paranoïde
  • Finnish — paranoidinen
  • French — paranoïaque
  • German — paranoid
  • Greek — παρανοϊκός
  • Italian — paranoico
  • Japanese — 妄想
  • Korean — 편집성
  • American English — paranoid 
  • Norwegian — Paranoid
  • Polish — paranoidalna
  • Portuguese — paranóico
  • Russian — параноидальный
  • Spanish — paranoide
  • British English — paranoid 
  • Swedish — paranoid
  • Thai — หวาดระแวง
  • Turkish — Paranoyak
  • Ukrainian — Параноїдальний
  • Vietnamese — Paranoid


To sum it all up, a paranoid person suffers from paranoia and can be described as someone with an absurd and almost obsessive distrust and suspicion of others, as well as being highly irrational. 


Paranoid definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 

Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD): Symptoms & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

Mistrustful and Misunderstood: A Review of Paranoid Personality Disorder | PMC