Terrible and Horrible

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.

Bayonnaise_vs_Embuscade_mg_9452I 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.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

15 thoughts on “Terrible and Horrible

  1. See if this helps. The Republican choice for President is horrible. The Democrat choice for president is terrible. It’s horrible that we have to make this terrible choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting account of your pursuit to find the meaning of terrible vs horrible and your motivation for doing so. I’m curious to see if UK is able to pursue another run at Brexit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wonder, Dianne, just how much sense the American voters have. I am shocked that Trump has gotten this far and yet here he is with all these people who I thought had some sense now supporting him. The sad thing will be when so few voters turn out in November and this bully will take the majority of that tiny number.


    • Unfortunately, many of our fellow Americans have been listening to sound bites and watching too much TV and Trump has a knack for making a spectacle of himself.

      I’ve followed Hillary for decades, and am very familiar with her strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, almost all of what is traveling around social media, especially FB is lies. If you decide you hate Hillary, it’s easy to believe the lies. It takes education and strength of mind to investigate.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dianne, thank you for your comments. I am shocked at the result of our Referendum, but here in Scotland we voted overwhelmingly in favour of Remain. As a result of this I am seriously thinking of becoming a member of the SNP. I cannot do much due to my health issues, but I can give implicit support. Blessings from bewildered dalamory!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw the results here on BBC America, and am thinking Scotland probably will break away from the UK and join the EU. Sad, but probably necessary. Next to leave will be Northern Ireland, which will probably recombine with the Republic of Ireland. England will truly then become “little Britain.” Very sad.

      I also expect of many those skilled young people in London and elsewhere who voted ‘Remain’ will also leave for Europe, Australia, Canada and the US.


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