First attested in 1449, from Middle English abhorren, borrowed from Middle French abhorrer, from Latin abhorreō (shrink away from in horror), from ab- (from) +‎ horreō (stand aghast, bristle with fear).[1]



abhor (third-person singular simple present abhors, present participle abhorring, simple past and past participle abhorred)

  1. (transitive) To regard (someone or something) as horrifying or detestable; to feel great repugnance toward. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
    Synonyms: detest, disdain, loathe
    I absolutely abhor being stuck in traffic jams
    • 1611, Romans 12:9, King James Bible:
      Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
  2. (transitive, obsolete, impersonal) To fill with horror or disgust. [Attested from the mid 16th century until the early 17th century.][2]
  3. (transitive) To turn aside or avoid; to keep away from; to reject.
  4. (transitive, canon law, obsolete) To protest against; to reject solemnly.
    • c. 1613 William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, act 2, scene 4:
      I utterly abhor, yea, from my soul Refuse you for my judge.
  5. (intransitive, obsolete) To feel horror, disgust, or dislike (towards); to be contrary or averse (to); construed with from. [Attested from the mid 16th century until the mid 17th century.][2]
    • the daunce were to their honour and memorie, whiche moste of all abhored from Christes religion
    • c. 1644, John Milton, "The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce", Book II, Chap. 7.
      Either then the law by harmless and needful dispenses, which the gospel is now made to deny, must have anticipated and exceeded the grace of the gospel, or else must be found to have given politic and superficial graces without real pardon, saying in general, “do this and live,” and yet deceiving and damning underhand with unsound and hollow permissions; which is utterly abhorring from the end of all law, as hath been shewed.
  6. (intransitive, obsolete) Differ entirely from. [Attested from the mid 16th century until the late 17th century.][2]



Related termsEdit



  1. ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], →ISBN), page 2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abhor”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 4.