horror

1 of 2

noun

hor·​ror ˈhȯr-ər How to pronounce horror (audio)
ˈhär-
1
a
: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay
astonishment giving place to horror on the faces of the people about meH. G. Wells
b
: intense aversion or repugnance
2
a
: the quality of inspiring horror : repulsive, horrible, or dismal quality or character
contemplating the horror of their livesLiam O'Flaherty
b
: something that inspires horror
3
horrors plural : a state of extreme depression or apprehension

horror

2 of 2

adjective

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

Examples of horror in a Sentence

Noun 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
It’s been appealing to me for a long time for fairly obvious reasons: the ambient horror of repression. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 19 May 2024 No one could have imagined the horrors that would follow soon after. Corin Cesaric, Peoplemag, 19 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for horror 

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English orrour, horrour, borrowed from Anglo-French horrour, horrur, borrowed from Latin horrōr-, horror "standing stiffly, bristling (of hair), shivering (from cold or fear), dread, consternation," derivative with the abstract noun suffix -ōr- (going back to *-ōs-) from the base of horrēre "to be stiffly erect, bristle (of hair, weapons, plants), shudder, shiver," going back to Indo-Europeanhors-éi̯e-, iterative derivative of a stem hers- "bristle, become stiff," whence also Sanskrit hṛṣyati "(it) stands on end (of hair, from fear or joy), (s/he) rejoices"

Note: According to Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben (2. Auflage, Wiesbaden, 2001) this base has fallen together with another base, *g(w)hers- "rejoice," in Vedic, and the outcomes are no longer completely distinguishable; the Lexikon attributes to the latter base Vedic hárṣate "rejoices, is excited," ghṛ́ṣuḥ, ghṛ́ṣvih "lively, wanton," as well as Parthian gš- "be cheerful," Sogdian w-γš- "rejoice." Michiel de Vaan (Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, Brill, 2008) posits a single base and assumes for ghṛ́ṣuḥ, ghṛ́ṣvih loss of palatal quality in zero grade. Earlier etymological dictionaries, as Pokorny, connect with hers- and an unextended form her- a wide variety of nominal forms (cf. gorse, orgeat, hirsute, urchin).

Adjective

from attributive use of horror entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

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

Adjective

1936, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near horror

Cite this Entry

“Horror.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/horror. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

horror

noun
hor·​ror
ˈhȯr-ər,
ˈhär-
1
: strong fear, dread, or dislike
2
: the quality of inspiring horror
3
: something horrible
horror adjective

Medical Definition

horror

noun
hor·​ror ˈhȯr-ər, ˈhär- How to pronounce horror (audio)
: painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay

More from Merriam-Webster on horror

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