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 The Cesar Chavez Foundation worked to vaccinate farmworkers, Andres Chavez said, and Kennedy Jr.’s views on vaccines horrified him. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2024 Fans didn’t have to wait long for the next big bad, as David Morrissey brought one of Kirkman and Adlard’s most iconic villains, the Governor, from paneled page menace to horrifying small-screen life. Josh Wigler, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Mar. 2024 When gunshots rang out at the parade moments after the team finished speaking on stage, Mike was horrified. Alex Ross, Peoplemag, 2 Mar. 2024 Biden-administration officials were reportedly horrified by the disregard that Israeli leaders showed for the deaths of more than 100 Palestinians trying to reach humanitarian aid a few weeks ago. Andrew Exum, The Atlantic, 18 Mar. 2024 Even those who have closely followed the coverage of Jan. 6 may be horrified anew by the cult-like conviction behind the siege. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 5 Mar. 2024 Moon mining, whether for water or rare-earth metals, remains science fiction today, and tends to give pause to casual observers, who imagine looking up, horrified, at a strip-mined lunar surface. David W. Brown, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 Or those horrified by the possibility that their constitutional rights and democratic traditions may be radically curtailed? Marcela Valdes, New York Times, 25 Feb. 2024 Other videos that circulated around Thanksgiving captured passengers allegedly causing chaos aboard two Frontier Airlines’ flights, one in which a woman pulled her pants down, horrifying onlookers. Antonio Planas, NBC News, 1 Feb. 2024

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 12 Apr. 2024.

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

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