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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
  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.
  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]
    • 1531, Thomas Elyot, “That all daunsinge is nat to be reproued”, in Ernest Rhys, editor, The Boke Named the Governour [] (Everyman’s Library), London: J[oseph] M[alaby] Dent & Co; New York, N.Y.: E[dward] P[ayson] Dutton & Co, published [1907], →OCLC, 1st book, page 86:
      Also in those daunces were enterlased dities of wanton loue or ribaudry, with frequent remembrance of the moste vile idolis Venus and Bacchus, as it were that the daunce were to their honour and memorie, whiche most of all abhorred from Christes religion, sauerynge the auncient errour of paganysme.
    • 1644, J[ohn] M[ilton], chapter VII, in The Doctrine or Discipline of Divorce: [], 2nd edition, London: [s.n.], →OCLC, book II, page 46:
      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 terms[edit]



  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.