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 An integral part of the Harlem Renaissance, most scholars today would probably not dispute that Schomburg would be horrified by the current goings on around teaching African American history. Rayna Reid Rayford, Essence, 21 Sep. 2023 These interviews are horrifying https://t.co/uE9nfAGMwN pic.twitter.com/HmibGgeQGy — Kolii ♡ (@koliikat) September 9, 2023 Several old interview clips of Kutcher, Kunis and Masterson have circulated on social media since Masterson’s prison sentence was announced. Zack Sharf Variety Entertainment News Service, al, 11 Sep. 2023 The thought that a nurse assigned to care for the most vulnerable babies could instead have killed them horrified the British public, and the details emerging from Letby’s trial attracted widespread attention. Annabelle Timsit, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2023 The utterance horrified two white houseguests, who quickly left the room. Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2023 Would her great-great-grandmother, the prolific writer and titan of American etiquette Emily Post, be horrified? Tatum Hunter, Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2023 Several observers were horrified, saying the film represented the opposite message of the worldwide protests against police violence that followed Floyd’s death. Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times, 25 Aug. 2023 Their brutal crime horrified the nation nearly 30 years ago. Donald Beaulieu, Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2023 But her case horrified Britain for years before the trial, after she was charged with 22 counts in connection with the deaths and harm to the babies. Aaron Boxerman, New York Times, 18 Aug. 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 4 Oct. 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
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!