According to Cambridge Dictionary the verb abhor carries a moral connotation (at least), indicating a strong feeling of detesting something on moral grounds:
abhor: to hate a way of behaving or thinking, often because you think it is not moral:
- I abhor all forms of racism.
However, I've noticed that the related noun abhorrence does not usually have the same degree of association with morality. Typical sentences showing this are:
- He has an abhorrence of monkeys.
- Most people have an abhorrence of snakes.
- Many people show abhorrence of spiders.
And Cambridge doesn't add the rider about morality:
abhorrence: a feeling of hating something or someone: ...
- She has an abhorrence of change. ...
- The writer reviews the effect of this blunt abhorrence of abnormal forms ...
[Though to be fair, 90% of the example sentences given do involve a moral revulsion.]
Looking back at the animal examples: at first glance, there aren't specific reasons to detest these animals for moral reasons. But I considered the possibility that covert (or perhaps projected) moral qualities could be involved. For instance, spiders are hematocryal ... although that might sound quite far-fetched.
So can anyone support this theory of broadening? And can anyone offer an explanation for the difference in degree of association with moral judgements associated with abhor and abhorrence?
If necessary, you could involve etymological accounts.