The Horror! – Photo: Greville Edwards


It’s one of President Trump’s favourite words. It pops out of his mouth all the time, competing for the Most Frequent Adjective with Greatest, Beautiful and of course SAD.


…October 2016 … female accusers of his sexual assaults he called “… horrible people, they’re horrible horrible liars”.

“John Podesta said some horrible things about you, and boy was he right” (to H. Clinton, of course)

“Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape …”

You know the drill.

Donald J has given horrible a shot in the arm, even if he overuses it. It’s all over twitter now, if that is a positive fate for a word.


Horrible, according to the Oxford Dictionary, means “causing or likely to cause horror”. And horror? “An intense feeling of fear, shock or disgust” … such as engendered by … Donald Trump!

To be fair, Oxford also lists a secondary meaning, “very unpleasant” for horrible. And to continue in fairness, this is how Trump uses it, it seems. It has overtaken “nasty” as his negative word de jour.

Horrible is one of those words that rolls around in the mouth. It comes out with force. It causes the listeners’ ears and mouths to crinkle a little as the idea of horrible finds its target. Horrible! Bad, nasty, to be avoided at all costs!


It’s more popular in the US than this side of the Atlantic, it seems, from the wizened wisdom of social media and newslike platforms. And it’s one of those easy, primary-school adjectives that the new president likes to pump out there.

Fancy vocabulary? That’s for the elites!


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