early 14c., "feeling of disgust;" late 14c., "emotion of horror or dread," also "thing which excites horror," from Old French horror (12c., Modern French horreur) and directly from Latin horror "dread, veneration, religious awe," a figurative use, literally "a shaking, trembling (as with cold or fear), shudder, chill," from horrere "to bristle with fear, shudder," from PIE root *ghers- "to bristle" (source also of Sanskrit harsate "bristles," Avestan zarshayamna- "ruffling one's feathers," Latin eris (genitive) "hedgehog," Welsh garw "rough").
Also formerly in English "a shivering," especially as a symptom of disease or in reaction to a sour or bitter taste (1530s); "erection of the hairs on the skin" (1650s); "a ruffling as of water surface" (1630s). As a genre in film, 1934. Chamber of horrors originally (1849) was a gallery of notorious criminals in Madame Tussaud's wax exhibition. Other noun forms are horribility (14c., now rare or disused), horribleness (late 14c.), horridity (1620s), horridness (1610s).
updated on September 06, 2015