E 0462          HORROR

The word " horror " is of Latin origin .

H 0572            ר ו ג מ

Concept of root : horror

Hebrew word


English meanings

ר ו ג מ



Related English words

horror from Latin

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ר ו ג מ



g (o) r




to be frightened

h (o) r



Proto-Semitic *GŎR --- *GHŎR Indo-European



This entry should be read together with the numbers : E 0461 (Hebrew 0386) and E 0460 (Hebrew 0445).


The Hebrew word "magor" is composed of a prefix "ma" and a root "gor". This kind of noun says "that what gor’s". There are several verbs " ג ו ר , gor " , but one of them means "to frighten, make afraid". So the noun "magor" stands for "that what frightens", nicely in line with "horror". But we point out that also the intransitive meaning, "to be frightened", is covered by the same verb and identical verbal forms. Another verb "gor", possibly of the same origin , says "to assail, attack". With that "magor" might mean "that which assails". The combination of the two , "something that assails and frightens" is properly well reconcilable with what we get presented in modern horror-films.


Consequently we must still see if "gor" can be related in sound to "horror".



  • Latin "horreo" carries several messages, among which it is not easy to define which came first: "to stand stiff, to shudder (for fear or cold), to be in fear, to be horrified". Other words shaped on basis of the same root concentrate more on one or the other side. "Horrendus" is "terrible, frightening". "Horribilis" is as good as identical in meaning. But "horridus"has both the message of "stiff" and "rough" as that of "horrible". "Horrifico" says both "to make rough" and "to make very afraid".


    There has been some speculation about the origin: fright makes the hair of animals (and a bit also of human beings) stand up. And Latin has the word "hirsutus" = "rough", also used for "shaggy", like Italian "irsuto". Thus some conclude that "horreo" and "hirsutus" are of the same origin. We are far from certain of this, but if so, than "horreo", having " O " and no " S ", would be older than "hirsutus" that has " I "and and (added) " S ". And anyhow one might even better reason that people stand stiff for fright, with both concepts covered by the verb "horreo". In our view the, anyhow limited, similarity of the Latin words with the two meanings, one of "horror, fright" and one of "stiffness" is fortuitous.


  • Latin and Hebrew have as difference the Latin H versus the Hebrew G. We refer to entry E 420A (Hebrew 0386)where the verb "gor" is considered, as well as to entry E 420B (Hebrew 0445), mentioning the root "GH R D" that combines the ideas of fear and trembling.


  • Greek has a related word that we have referred to in entry E 0460 (Hebrew 0445): "orrōdia" = "horror".


  • Proto-Semitic. This word "magor", found in later texts, may have been taken from Aramaic. Hebrew also has a related verb, " *י ג ר, Y G R "yagar with the same meaning. That verb originally had an initial Waw , with thus a root as was present in Proto-Semitic : " *ו ג ר, W . G . R ". This has a cognate in Arabic "wajira = he feared ", in which the "G" as often has changed into "J ". The root "W G R " has been shaped with a prefix " W ", after the root "G W R" of this entry, and not the other way about. The basic root is indeed seen in Hebrew "ג ו ר, G W R". gŏr = to fear". Proto-Semitic must have had that same root *"ג ו ר, G W R".


    An extended Hebrew root "ח ר ד , GH R D, gharad = he trembled, was anxious, terrified" is also seen in Syriac. Arabic has "gharida = he was bashful", which is rather far off in meaning. So we have a narrow basis for a solid hypothesis, though Proto-Semitic may have used also this extended root "*ח ר ד , GH R D".


  • Indo-European.


    Old Indian, like Latin but unlike Greek, Slavic and Germanic, has for the concepts of "fright, anxiousness" and of "stiffness", similar words, or rather identical words with both meanings. "hártsati, hŗtsyati = to be anxious, excited; to become stiff, rigid, to bristle". One may find some practical relation between hair rising up stiff and fright, but that is not sufficient to see a common origin in meaning, in concept.


    Slavic for the meaning of this entry, regarding horror and fright, has a hypothesis of "*grozā". As a noun in Russian this means "thunderstorm", but also "threat, terror". And "грозный, groznĕy stands for "threatening, terrible, dreadful", besides further , also figurative, meanings. And "Иоанн грозный, Yoann groznŭy is "Ivan the Terrible".


    For Indo-European a hypothesis can be "GH O R-". The initial "GH" can soften into "H" (Latin, Old Indian), sharpen into "G" (Germanic) or disappear (Greek, perhaps via "H"). A metathesis between "R" and vowel can take place, as is frequent in Germanic.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 27/12/2012 at 16.58.44