How do I use the word abhorrence in a sentence?

In my case, this is to express my extreme disgust of the Java programming language to a college. (no hate ^-^) I wrote it as:

Is my abhorrence with Java ridiculous?

  • 1
    One feels abhorrence toward or for that which one abhors. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 29 '14 at 22:36
  • Where do people pronounce it with a "t" sound before the "s" sound? [əb-ˈhȯr-ənts] – Centaurus Dec 29 '14 at 22:45
  • 1
    I have never heard that pronunciation, @Centaurus, so it must not be part of my regional dialect. – ScotM Dec 30 '14 at 22:16

The usage of abhorrence has decreased steadily from the early 19th century. Comparing usage with the prepositional pairings of, for, toward and at shows that abhorrence of was the dominant usage, trailing off steadily with the same curve as the general usage of the word, but remaining significantly more popular than the the other prepositional pairings with abhorrence.

Abhorrence OED


A feeling of repulsion; disgusted loathing:

The etymology suggests root meaning from and even earlier "at" are already in the word:

abhorrent + ence


1610s, "in a position or condition to recoil," usually with from;

from Latin abhorentem (nominative abhorrens), present participle of abhorrere; see abhor.

Meaning "repugnant" is from 1650s.

Earlier was abhorrable (late 15c.).

abhor (v.)

mid-15c., from Latin abhorrere "shrink back from, have an aversion for, shudder at," from ab- "away"

(see ab-) + horrere "tremble at, shudder," literally "to bristle, be shaggy,"

from PIE *ghers- "start out, stand out, rise to a point, bristle" (see horror).

The prefix ab already implies at, but from might capture the intuitive response to hor(or).

Interestingly the OP chose disgust as the synonym for abhorrence. Disgust remains significantly more popular, and the preposition with was the second most popular pairing with disgust. Perhaps the prepositional confusion surrounding abhorrence reveals a mental conflation with its synonyms?

Is my abhorrence of Java ridiculous? uses the most popular pairing with abhorrence.

Is my abhorrence for Java ridiculous? is 10 times less popular.

Abhorrence toward is even less popular, but with is extremely rare.

It would probably be better to use one of the other four more common prepositions to express your abhorrence of Java.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Please don't use corpus stats like ngrams without at least glancing at actual examples in context. "abhorrence with" is used predominantly in the context of constructions like "abhorrence with which...", i.e. not abhorrence with + noun. – user52889 Dec 29 '14 at 23:27
  • @user52889 I don't quite understand what you are saying. Do you have some evidence that ScotM is wrong that 'abhorrence of [anything]' is not the most frequent use of 'abhorrence'? ScotM should also provide some evidence for his claim. – Frank Dec 30 '14 at 19:11
  • 1
    Not at all, I see @ScotM has updated his answer since my reply. He initially also cited a Google ngram chart showing "abhorrence with" was a common ngram but the actual citations you got when you dug into the data didn't support his claim (since removed) that "abhorrence with" was a coherent collocation and not simply down to the frequency of an unrelated construction using "with". As the answer stands now, it looks fine, so I'll upvote. – user52889 Dec 30 '14 at 20:06
  • @user52889 I repent in dust and ashes for my inept use of Ngrams. I was as shocked by the results, but didn't realize the limitations of that tool. Your recommendation was an important lesson for this greenhorn :) – ScotM Dec 30 '14 at 22:15
  • @user52889 thanks for clarifying, it's a better answer now. – Frank Dec 31 '14 at 4:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.