What are the weirdest phobias? Surely they’re all just everyday irrational, overwhelming and debilitating fears of objects, places, situations, feelings or animals, like heights and spiders? Well, you'll be surprised. These bizarre phobias will definitely blow your mind...
When we were researching for our latest game, Gamophobia, the fearful game of trivia, mime and memory, we asked ourselves: What are the rarest phobias? A quick Google search provided us with the answers. Thank heavens for Google.
We had arithmophobia, the fear of numbers; bibliophobia, the fear of books; and chirophobia, the fear of hands. All very rare, very real phobias.
The only problem was, we’re Bubblegum Stuff; we want funny, we want odd, and we want weird. So we asked the gods of Google to answer a different question: What are the weirdest phobias? That’s when we got the responses we were after.
And here are our 13 favourites. The highlights reel. A showcase of the strangest phobias that, prior to reading this, you’d have never thought existed.
1. Urophobia: The fear of urine or urinating
Lowering the tone with the very first entry on our list is urophobia. Apparently, you can break down this bizarre phobia into two root causes. Firstly it's the unpleasant smell of this glistening golden secretion, and secondly, it’s the pain experienced when urinating. We can only assume/hope the second cause is less common!
2. Venustraphobia: The fear of beautiful women
If you’re Mick Hucknall or Rick Flair, this fear might sound completely foreign and the last thing in the world you'd be afraid of. However, our second entry, venustraphobia, is fairly common in Japan, where men report feeling too intimidated to approach beautiful women.
That might explain why marriage rates in the Asian nation had fallen to 4.8% by 2019.
3. Mortuusequusphobia: The fear of tomato ketchup
Surprisingly, this one has nothing to do with death or mortgage repayments. Mortuusequusphobia is actually the fear of tomato ketchup. And for all you diehard Heinz lovers out there, it’s got nothin’ to do with the brand. It’s the fear of all ketchup.
The word comes from "dead horse", which is Australian slang for the red stuff; mortuusequusphobia being the literal Latin translation for “dead horse phobia”.
4. Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia: The fear of long words
In what is either a cruel twist of fate or a deliberate attempt to cause anxiety among sufferers, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is one of the longest words in the dictionary. So the mere mention of their fear can send sufferers running for the hills.
Allegedly, it started life as sesquipedalophobia. But then someone added references to hippos and monsters to make it sound more intimidating in what is one giant middle finger to the long-word-fearing community.
5. Panophobia: The fear of everything
Stephen Hawking had the theory of everything. Those who experience panophobia have the fear of everything.
Panophobes experience a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil, which is why everything is treated with suspicion. Yes, that even includes kittens, puppies and pizza.
6. Cacophobia: The fear of ugliness
No fear has the potential to cause offence like cacophobia. It would definitely create friction in most friendship groups, as cacophobes are often unable to mask their reaction to a perceived ugliness.
But it doesn’t start and end with people, it includes any object or situation sufferers deem ugly. Maybe, in our aesthetically obsessed culture, we’re all on the cacophobia spectrum. Did you ever think of that? Huh?!
7. Omphalophobia: The fear of belly buttons
People that have omphalophobia can experience fear when touching or seeing another person’s belly button. Or it can involve touching or seeing their own.
We get the part where they fear seeing their own or someone else's. It's not always under their control. But, surely, as an omphalophobe, what are they playing at touching belly buttons?! That’s like prodding a hornet’s nest.
Also, here’s a fun belly button fact: that sensation you get when you poke your belly button that kinda feels like you need to pee… that’s normal. It’s down to sensory nerve fibres in the internal lining of your stomach. If you’ve never tried it, give it a go!
8. Turophobia: The fear of cheese
Eating a ripe cheese before you go to bed is rumoured to give you nightmares. But for turophobes, just the sight, thought or mention of cheese is enough to give them the heebie-jeebies.
Causes could be the stank of a particular type of Stilton or raclette, or the fact that cheese is the solidified, crumbly or oozy result of aging animal milk in dark, dank places.
9. Barophobia: The fear of gravity
Gravity is ever-present. It’s the force that keeps us pinned to our planet. So, why would someone fear the thing that stops them from floating off into space, you say?
Well, it's not the existence of gravity, rather the non-existence of gravity. More specifically, Barophobes fear falling off the face of the Earth in the event that gravity stops existing altogether. And given that gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces (the hydrogen bonding in a single drop of water can overpower the gravity of an entire planet), they may have a reason to be fearful.
10. Samhainophobia: The fear of Halloween
Anyone who’s had to clean egg off their brand new suede jacket (I may or may not be speaking from experience) can identify with this one. “Trick or treat!?” - it’s enough to stir up anxiety and anger in equal measure. Halloween’s association with ghosts and witchcraft may also contribute to samhainophobes’ fears.
But, maybe we’re thinking too hard on this. It could be the modern traditions of dressing provocatively, drinking their body weight in booze and vomiting kebab all over their bathroom that people are scared of. Sesh anxiety… that’s what it should be called.
11. Arachibutyrophobia: The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth
Now we’re getting into really weird phobia territory. Whilst peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth is a very real struggle, it ain’t fear-worthy. After all, you’re eating peanut butter, so the only sensation you’ll be getting is unbridled crunchy-or-smooth pleasure.
Amazingly, though, arachibutyrophobes don’t share this silver lining approach to the problem, as the feeling causes them to experience panic and distress. The solution? Don’t eat peanut butter?... The solution sounds worse than the cause!
12. Nomophobia: The fear of having no mobile phone coverage
Unsurprisingly, nomophobia wasn’t too common 50 years ago. But now it affects around 66% of adults in the US. That’s over 216 million people regularly becoming distressed when separated from a working phone!
These people should’ve been around in the 90s, when no matter how big your phone’s areal was, you could never get a signal. Still, at least you could play snake until you reached a payphone.
13. Phobophobia: The fear of fear
So we come to number 13, which is unlucky for some. Much like the phobia of phobias. As former US President Franklin D Roosevelt once said: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” These wise words could act as a proud motto for a phobophobia support group.
The presidential motto options for a “phobia of being fooled” support group, on the other hand, are not so inspiring, with George W Bush’s famous “Fool me once, shame on... shame on you. Fool me... You can't get fooled again!’” being the frontrunner.
So, there you have it, our 13 strangest fears. They’re all included in our latest game, Gamophobia, which is a rip-roaring fears-based team game that takes place across three rounds of trivia, mime and memory. It’s currently available for pre-order here.
But don’t go anywhere yet. We want to hear from you. Do you have any bizarre phobias that cause panic at the mere sight, sound or smell of something? Let us know in the comments section.