The Difference ‘Tween Fright and Horror


I forget where I saw it now, but I came across the word “preternatural” in something I was reading today and it got me thinking about what it meant and how it differed from similar words, such as supernatural. Then I though, “Hey, Halloween is almost here. Why not do a post on the ol’ wordy blog that shows folks the difference between Halloween-y words such as demonic, grotesque, and horror. And so, that’s just what I did. Enjoy.

By the way, the definitions of horror and grotesque are freakin’ awesome!

Possessed by a demon or evil spirit; of or pertaining to demons; Characteristic of or befitting a demon, devilish; Of the nature of a demon or in-dwelling spirit.

Full of dread, fear, or awe; Fearful, terrified, timid, or reverential; Inspiring dread or reverence, awe-inspiring; terrible, formidable; Awful, to be dreaded; In a weakened sense, applied to objects exciting fear or aversion.

Fear in general; Anything that causes terror, such as a person or thing of shocking, grotesque, or ridiculous appearance

A painful emotion compounded of loathing and fear; A shuddering with terror and repugnance; Strong aversion mingled with dread; The feeling excited by something shocking or frightful

Fun fact pertaining to the word horror: Horrescent, meaning “shuddering, expressive of horror,” is an actual word.

A kind of decorative painting or sculpture consisting of represenations of portions of human and animal forms fantastically combined and interwoven with foliage and flowers; In a wider sense, characterized by distortions or unnatural combinations; fantastically extravagant; bizarre; Ludicrous from incongruity, fantastically absurd.

Inspiring fear, awe, or horror, such as to cause one to shudder with fear

Something extraordinary or unnatural; An animal or plant deviating in one or more of its parts from the normal type, specifically an animal afflicted with some congenital malformation; An imaginary animal, such as a centaur, having a form either partially brute or partially human, or compound elements from two or more animal forms; A person of inhumane or horrible cruelty or wickedness

That which is out of the ordinary course of nature; beyond, surpassing or differing from what is natural; Non-natural. Formerly = abnormal, exceptional, unusual; sometimes = unnatural

Corrupt, evil, bad, base;  Of omens: portending or indicating misfortune or disaster, full of dark or gloomy suggestiveness; inauspicious, unfavorable.

That which is above nature; Belonging to a higher realm or system than that of nature; Transcending the powers or the ordinary course of nature

The state of being terrified or greatly frightened; Intense fear, fright, or dread

Not in accordance or conformity with the physical nature of persons or animals; Not in accordance or agreement with the usual course or nature; At variance with natural feeling or moral standards, excessively cruel or wicked.

Of persons not fearing or reverencing God; Irreligious, impious, wicked; Of actions not in accordance with the will or law of God; (colloquially) Outrageous, dreadful.

Oxford English Dictionary (compact version)


Published by Joe3

Founder of the College Park Community and Butter Lamb Reference Libraries

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