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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.


First attested in 1449, from Middle English abhorren, 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 with horror or detestation; to shrink back with shuddering from; to feel excessive repugnance toward; to detest to extremity; to loathe. [First attested from around (1350 to 1470).][2]
    • 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 shrink back with horror, disgust, or dislike; to be contrary or averse; construed with from. [Attested from the mid 16th century until the mid 17th century.][2]
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Udall to this entry?):
      To abhor from those vices.
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?):
      Which is utterly abhorring from the end of all law.
  6. (intransitive, obsolete) Differ entirely from. [Attested from the mid 16th century until the late 17th century.][2]



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  1. ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], ISBN 0550142304), page 2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lesley Brown (editor), The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 5th edition (Oxford University Press, 2003 [1933], ISBN 978-0198605751), page 4