hor·​ri·​fy ˈhȯr-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce horrify (audio)
horrified; horrifying

transitive verb

: to cause to feel horror
: to fill with distaste : shock
horrifyingly adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for horrify

dismay, appall, horrify, daunt mean to unnerve or deter by arousing fear, apprehension, or aversion.

dismay implies that one is disconcerted and at a loss as to how to deal with something.

dismayed at the size of the job

appall implies that one is faced with that which perturbs, confounds, or shocks.

I am appalled by your behavior

horrify stresses a reaction of horror or revulsion.

was horrified by such wanton cruelty

daunt suggests a cowing, disheartening, or frightening in a venture requiring courage.

a cliff that would daunt the most intrepid climber

Examples of horrify in a Sentence

The details of the crime horrified the nation. They were horrified by the movie's violence.
Recent Examples on the Web In a statement, the Sports Illustrated Union said it was horrified by the Futurism story. David Bauder, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Nov. 2023 Oil, surprisingly, could be next to get an invite into the climate change tent with a potentially significant effect on prices and while that possibility might horrify environmentalists there were two unofficial invitations issued last week. Tim Treadgold, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 The terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7 was swift and brutal and horrified the world. Desiree Adib, ABC News, 24 Nov. 2023 To many Americans horrified by the attack, the decisions were a relief. Caroline Mimbs Nyce, The Atlantic, 30 Sep. 2023 The violence has horrified Pakistanis, whose memories of the group’s first wave of insurgency more than a decade ago are still vivid. Rick Noack, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2023 And as street and body camera footage of the encounter horrified the nation, Memphis officials swiftly fired and disciplined multiple other police and emergency personnel and disbanded the specialized police force, which had a history of using excessive force and intimidation. Jessica Jaglois, New York Times, 2 Nov. 2023 Like most, if not all Palestinians here, the family is horrified by events in Gaza. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 3 Nov. 2023 The scale and speed of what’s taking place has horrified many onlookers. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2023 See More

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

Word History


probably from horri(fic) + -fy

Note: Given the late appearance of the word, it is most likely not a borrowing from Latin horrificāre "to ruffle the surface of, frighten, terrify."

First Known Use

1791, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of horrify was in 1791

Dictionary Entries Near horrify

Cite this Entry

“Horrify.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horrify. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


hor·​ri·​fy ˈhȯr-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce horrify (audio)
horrified; horrifying
: to cause to feel horror

More from Merriam-Webster on horrify

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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