abhor

verb

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

transitive verb

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

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Those who shudder to think about having to clean dirty carpets might fairly be said to abhor a vacuum. Nature is often said to abhor a vacuum as well, albeit a different one—according to plenists, there is always some matter or material floating around ready to fill a void. Interior designers afflicted with horror vacui abhor vacuums as well, being unable to tolerate empty spaces in artistic designs. In each of these cases, abhor implies strong feelings of disgust and aversion, a degree of distaste embedded in the word's history: the word's Latin source, the verb abhorrēre, comes from the prefix ab- ("from, away") and the verb horrēre ("to bristle, shiver, or shudder"). 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

Examples of abhor in a Sentence

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 The president also cited his father as the one who taught him to abhor the abuse of power. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 13 June 2024 This achievement is the first of its kind with any metal atoms, which seem to abhor flatness and typically insist on clustering into droplets or particles. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, 12 June 2024 Ironically, some of its sticking power may have come from a contemporary of Descartes whom the Church abhorred: the astronomer Galileo Galilei. Sigal Samuel, Vox, 4 June 2024 Politics in the West seems to abhor the middle ground, swinging inexorably from overreach and overstatement to isolationism and withdrawal. Rory Stewart, Foreign Affairs, 8 Oct. 2021 See all Example Sentences for abhor 

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

Etymology

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

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Dictionary Entries Near abhor

Cite this Entry

“Abhor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abhor. Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

abhor

verb
ab·​hor əb-ˈhȯ(ə)r How to pronounce abhor (audio)
ab-
abhorred; abhorring
: to shrink from in disgust
abhorrence
-ˈhȯr-ən(t)s
-ˈhär-
noun
abhorrer noun

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