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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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 story is fantastic — about a young man who becomes the living manifestation of New York City, fighting against an otherworldly horror. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "All the science fiction and fantasy books we’re looking forward to in 2019," 30 Dec. 2018 This is still very much a Jordan Peele film, so there's an artistry here often lacking from your average horror fare. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "All we want for Christmas is the first trailer for Jordan Peele’s Us," 25 Dec. 2018 Halloween might just be around the corner, but that doesn't mean there are only new horror TV shows and movies premiering. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "8 New TV Shows and Movies to Watch This Week," 21 Oct. 2018 Meghan Markle sent social media into overdrive when she was spotted — shock horror — closing her own car door during her first solo event this week. Fox News, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry spotted taking public transit to royal event," 27 Sep. 2018 With their mouths open, their gaping dentition provokes horror. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For the Fourth, bring out the (San Diego Zoo) babies!," 3 July 2018 Even children raised in the city experience a kind of auditory horror vacui in cities that don’t have them. Andrea Bennett, Condé Nast Traveler, "Will New Casinos Bring a "MassVegas" to New England?," 17 Dec. 2018 This, again, has a Watergate echo: As the revelations of White House horrors piled up during the midterm election season of 1974, Nixon decided to travel to Moscow, ostensibly a diplomatic mission in the cause of détente. Frank Rich, Daily Intelligencer, "Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places," 9 May 2018 In fact, the existential horror of the Medium Place (boredom and a lack of cocaine) is treated with much more gravity than the possibility of eternal physical torment. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The (secular) gospel according to The Good Place," 5 Dec. 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

18 Jan 2019

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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More from Merriam-Webster on horror

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with horror

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for horror

Spanish Central: Translation of horror

Nglish: Translation of horror for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of horror for Arabic Speakers

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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