This morning, I became curious as to the difference between the words terrible and horrible. This led me to explore Wikipedia and other sources offering word definitions. However, every source defined either word with the other. Both words have a Latin root so searching their origins did not clarify anything.
I discovered that Terrible was the name of a class of French war ships, like the eighteenth century Bayonnaise pictured above. Presumably the French hoped that the name alone would deter enemies (the English).
In the end, I resorted to my very old hardback World Book and Oxford English dictionaries. However, neither was very clear about the differences between the words terrible and horrible.
I cogitated a while, and then decided that in use the words might mean this: something described as terrible struck horror in a person. That is, the thing was terrible and on seeing it a person felt horror. It seems awkward to me to say the reverse: something horrible stuck terror in a person, although both words are obviously subjective. However, what I consider horrible, you might not. Just because something is thought to be horrible by some, it might not terrorize.
Obviously, the French thought their ship Le Terrible was beautiful, although they hoped it would strike horror or terror, I know not which, in the breast of their enemy (usually the English).
The truth: I began thinking about the words terrible and horrible because I was reacting to the Brexit outcome a day or two ago.
I’m an American who has been following the evolution of the European Union for a very long time. I am so sad the half of the Brits have voted to exit the European Union. If you are curious about the history of the Union, read Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, by Tony Judt.
Yes, I know the European Union can appear high-handed at times, just as our own federal government does to some Americans. However, I also know that we Americans are stronger because we all “hang together,” as Benjamin Franklin suggested.