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

Walking away from the HRC will not be enough to deflect the horror and outrage that the treatment of these children has elicited. Erika Guevara-rosas, Time, "Trump’s Departure From the Human Rights Council Will Only Weaken America," 20 June 2018 Her photographs became less about incident and story, and more about mood and the gravid silences held by places that have witnessed horrors. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "At PEM, Sally Mann stays outside the comfort zone," 12 July 2018 Yet there is no sense of his mental energies being diminished and players react with genuine horror at the prospect of a future without him. Jonathan Wilson, SI.com, "Manager Oscar Tabarez Wields His Influence to Mold, Adapt, Embody Uruguay," 5 July 2018 The years of war and horror had changed the people of Kabul. Maija Liuhto, Longreads, "A Music So Beautiful the Birds Fell from the Trees," 28 June 2018 Both the Etheria Jury Award and the Audience Award were won by Jocelyn Stamat’s sci-fi/horror short Laboratory Conditions, about a quest to locate the human soul. Marisa Tomei and Minnie Driver star. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Doctor Who director Rachel Talalay encourages women to 'kick down' glass ceiling," 17 June 2018 Made for $17 million, the horror film about a world taken over by sound-sensitive monsters went on to gross more than $330 million worldwide, earning significant critical accolades along the way. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Why the hardest special effect on A Quiet Place was corn," 8 July 2018 But where Fallen Kingdom couldn't make its mind up between over-serious drama, all-out intensity, and maddeningly silly leaps of horror-film logic, Rampage manages a perfect landing with its monster-sized feet. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Rampage is the awesome Jurassic World sequel we got—but didn’t deserve," 4 July 2018 Waiting in horror to see what happens when an impotent man-baby gets his finger on the nuclear button. Jennifer M. Wood, WIRED, "10 Scathing Political Satires to Stream This Independence Day," 3 July 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

11 Oct 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

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