hor·​ror | \ˈhȯr-ər, ˈhär-\

Definition of horror 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay astonishment giving place to horror on the faces of the people about me— H. G. Wells

b : intense aversion or repugnance

2a : the quality of inspiring horror : repulsive, horrible, or dismal quality or character contemplating the horror of their lives— Liam O'Flaherty

b : something that inspires horror

3 horrors plural : a state of extreme depression or apprehension



Definition of horror (Entry 2 of 2)

: calculated to inspire feelings of dread or horror a horror movie

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Synonyms & Antonyms for horror

Synonyms: Noun

agony, Gehenna, hell, misery, murder, nightmare, torment, torture

Antonyms: Noun

heaven, paradise

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Examples of horror in a Sentence


There was a look of horror on her face. The crowd watched in horror as the fire spread. His friends were shocked by the horror of his death. His crimes were unspeakable horrors. His memoirs recount the horrors of the war.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Americans witnessed the mass suicides to their enduring horror. Dorothy Rabinowitz, WSJ, "‘The Pacific War in Color: The Enemy Underground’ Review: War, Vividly Rendered," 12 July 2018 The tragedy of his end, along with the legend of his life, effectively covered up his horrors and hubris. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Hemingway’s Last Girl," 12 July 2018 The principal hypothesis is that, for all of its horror, the experience of war can give soldiers a sense of purpose and community that is hard to find in contemporary civilian life. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, "'Leave No Trace' Is Brutally Honest About Rewilding," 28 June 2018 Makkai puts the epidemic (which, of course, has not yet ended) into historical perspective without distancing it or blunting its horrors. Michael Cunningham, New York Times, "Surviving AIDS, but at What Cost?," 25 June 2018 Our horror at the suffering of children presents a risk today in this courtroom. Brian Melley, Fox News, "Prosecutor: Abused kids upbringing like 'Lord of the Flies'," 22 June 2018 As the family absorbed the awful news, their horror turned to outrage. David Gambacorta, Philly.com, "She says she was 5 when another Jehovah's Witness raped her. The religion's leaders call such accounts 'false stories.'," 20 June 2018 Jarjue remembers her horror at Cammara’s appearance upon her release. Sally Hayden, The Seattle Times, "Gambia’s dictator ordered a witch hunt; this village is still haunted by it," 28 May 2018 Jarjue remembers her horror at Cammara’s appearance upon her release. Sally Hayden, Washington Post, "Gambia’s dictator ordered a witch hunt. This village is still haunted by it.," 28 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'horror.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of horror


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1936, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for horror


Middle English horrour, from Anglo-French *orur, from Latin horror action of bristling, from horrēre to bristle, shiver; akin to Sanskrit harṣate he is excited

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Statistics for horror

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for horror

The first known use of horror was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for horror



English Language Learners Definition of horror

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very strong feeling of fear, dread, and shock

: the quality of something that causes feelings of fear, dread, and shock : the horrible or shocking quality or character of something

: something that causes feelings of fear, dread, and shock : something that is shocking and horrible



English Language Learners Definition of horror (Entry 2 of 2)

: intended to cause feelings of fear or horror


hor·​ror | \ˈhȯr-ər \

Kids Definition of horror

1 : great fear, dread, or shock All the children stared in horror at Pippi, and the teacher explained that one couldn't answer that way at school.— Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking

2 : a quality or thing that causes horror They witnessed the horror of war.


hor·​ror | \ˈhȯr-ər, ˈhär- \

Medical Definition of horror 

: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay

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Comments on horror

What made you want to look up horror? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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