Printable Version
Pronunciation: ahb-hor Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To deeply hate, detest vehemently, to shrink from with disgust.

Notes: The usage of this word has spiraled downward between 1708 and 2008, so today's Good Word may be seen as a rescue mission. The adjective from this verb is abhorrent, and the noun, as with all adjectives on -ant/-ent, of course, is abhorrence.

In Play: When hate does not go far enough, abhor is the word for you: "Those people who admire strong opponents usually abhor their victories." Abhorrence is not restricted to people: "Packrats seem to be like nature in abhorring a vacuum."

Word History: Today's word is a reflection of Latin abhorrere "shrink back from, shudder at", from ab "off, away from" + horrere "tremble at, to bristle", from PIE ghers- "(become) rigid". Apparently, the connection with today's word is via the image of the hair stiffening on the backs of scared animals. This word also produced Latin horror "dread, religious awe", from horrere, which English borrowed from Old French as horror (Modern French horreur). The Proto-Indo-European word also went into the making of Greek chersos "dry land", Albanian derr "hog", and Old Irish garb "rough". It does not seem to have made its way into the Germanic languages, so English has no derivative. (It would be abhorrent not to thank our old friend William Hupy for suggesting today's sharp Good Word in the Alpha Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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