ab·​hor əb-ˈhȯr How to pronounce abhor (audio)
abhorred; abhorring

transitive verb

: to regard with extreme repugnance : to feel hatred or loathing for : loathe
abhorred violence
abhorrer noun

Did you know?

Abhor implies strong feelings of repugnance, disgust, and aversion. This degree of distaste is seen in the word's history. In earlier use, abhor sometimes implied an actual shrinking away from something in horror or repugnance. Appropriately, the word's Latin source, the verb abhorrēre, comes from the prefix ab- ("from, away") and the verb horrēre ("to bristle, shiver, or shudder"). As you may have guessed, the Latin horrēre is also the source of the English words horror, horrify, and horrible.

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The Horror in Abhor

Abhor means “to loathe” or “to hate,” and while loathe and hate have roots in Old English, abhor derives from Latin. The roots of abhor can give us a deeper understanding of both the strength of the dislike expressed by the word and its relationship to other words in English. It came from the Latin word abhorrēre, which meant “to recoil from” or “to be repugnant to,” and was formed by combining ab-, meaning “from” and horrēre, meaning “to bristle,” “to tremble,” or “to shudder.” This word for trembling or shuddering in reaction to something scary or awful is related to the word that names of the cause of those reactions—the Latin word horror, which was later borrowed into English. The -hor of abhor is also the hor- of horror.

Choose the Right Synonym for abhor

hate, detest, abhor, abominate, loathe mean to feel strong aversion or intense dislike for.

hate implies an emotional aversion often coupled with enmity or malice.

hated the enemy with a passion

detest suggests violent antipathy.

detests cowards

abhor implies a deep often shuddering repugnance.

a crime abhorred by all

abominate suggests strong detestation and often moral condemnation.

abominates all forms of violence

loathe implies utter disgust and intolerance.

loathed the mere sight of them

Example Sentences

We believe we know that Americans abhor extremes and mistrust ideology. David Frum, Atlantic, March 1995
I abhor latter-day, modishly camp take-offs of my cherished boyhood heroes and heroines (Little Orphan Annie, Wonder Woman, Invisible Scarlet O'Neil). Mordecai Richler, New York Times Book Review, 3 May 1987
He abhorred grandiosity. When he came to New York to revise his manuscripts and galley proofs, he would hole up in a little cubicle on the attic floor of the old 52nd Street mansion that went by the name of Random House. Norman Cousins, Saturday Review, April 1981
abhors the way people leave their trash at the picnic sites in the park
Recent Examples on the Web Former members have said the church generally abhors outside interference from any government organization, including law enforcement. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 24 Apr. 2023 Nature may abhor a vacuum. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Mar. 2023 Upon arriving home to a press conference that turned into a media lynching, the band was pilloried by both the right (who opposed its members’ anti-war counterculture stance) and left (who abhorred their cooperation with the U.S. government). Roy Trakin, Variety, 31 Mar. 2023 Musk famously purchased $1.5 billion in the king of cryptocurrencies using spare cash on the EV maker’s balance sheet, a highly unorthodox move since most companies abhor putting their war chests at risk. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 12 May 2022 That's why major corporations are among the most lavish promoters of the social progressivism conservatives abhor. Samuel Goldman, The Week, 6 Jan. 2022 Many people cherish these institutions, many abhor them. Cody Cottier, Discover Magazine, 7 Aug. 2021 Scientists as a rule tend to abhor misleading people or out-and-out lying. Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 20 Sep. 2012 Folks around here don’t abhor just the Astros franchise but everyone who was involved with that 2017 larceny. Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'abhor.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English abhorren, borrowed from Latin abhorrēre, from ab- ab- + horrēre "to bristle, shiver, shudder" — more at horror entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of abhor was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near abhor

Cite this Entry

“Abhor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abhor. Accessed 29 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


ab·​hor əb-ˈhȯ(ə)r How to pronounce abhor (audio)
abhorred; abhorring
: to shrink from in disgust
abhorrer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on abhor

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