dread merchant
(DRED mur.chunt) n. A person who makes a living by predicting disasters and worst-case scenarios.

Example Citation:
Y2K guru Peter de Jager knows the millennium computer bug will be fixed — and he plans to ring in the New Year at 32,000 feet to prove it.

The Brampton resident, who was among the first in the world to sound the alarm about the Y2K bug, said he will be on a transatlantic flight to London from Chicago when the clock hits 2000.

"I believe so strongly that we're going to be okay I will be in the air," de Jager said yesterday at the launch of Brampton's millennium celebrations.

He said he has been called everything from a "dread merchant" to a "fearmonger" since his article about the Y2K bug in a computer trade magazine first grabbed attention in 1993.
—Sarah Green, "Expert is betting Y2K bug won't fly," The Toronto Sun, March 5, 1999

Earliest Citation:
If massive efforts aren't taken to fix the so-called Millennium Bug now . . . businesses might fail, airplanes could drop off radar screens and supermarkets might take perfectly good yogurt off the shelf, figuring it's 99 years past the expiration date. . . .At least that's what a booming cottage industry of doomsayers and dread merchants have been preaching for the last year or so.
—Stephen Levy, "The 1,000 Year Glitch," Newsweek, June 24, 1996

Related Words: