"Horrible" as a noun?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jan 26 01:31:39 UTC 2011

For coinage, the OED (2nd edition, and probably
for that reason not containing any instances after Conan Doyle in 1917), has:

horrible, B. n.
   A horrible person or thing; †a being inspiring
awe or dread (quot. c1475 at sense C.); a
horrible attribute or characteristic; a story of
horrible crime or the like (cf. dreadful n.).
c1540    Destr. Troy 13260   An old temple..I
founde, Of a god, þat with gomes was gretly
honouret. At þat orribill I asket angardly myche,
Of dethe, & of deire, as destyny willes.
1726    D. Defoe Polit. Hist. Devil ii. vi.
265   Among all the Horribles that we dress up Satan in.
1851    H. Melville Moby-Dick xxxix. 188   Such a
waggish leering as lurks in all you horribles!
1917    A. Conan Doyle His Last Bow i. 51   There
is but one step from the grotesque to the horrible.


At 1/25/2011 07:39 PM, Jocelyn Limpert wrote:

>I've been informed that "horrible" is being used as a noun in a soon-to-be
>published book, a possible best seller.
>Does anyone know who coined this usage and if it is now in fairly common
>usage?  Had anyone heard it much?
>I found the following at diffen.com
>*horrible as a Noun* The use of "horrible" as a noun is fairly rare. A
>person wearing a funny or gross costume in a parade of
>horribles<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parade_of_horribles>is called
>*a horrible*.
>Read more: Horrible vs Horrific - Difference and Comparison |
>I found the following in Wikipedia:
>*horrible* (*plural*
>    1. A thing that causes horror <http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/horror>; a
>    terrifying <http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/terrifying> thing, particularly
>    a prospective bad consequence asserted as likely to result from an act.
>     [quotations ⭲]
>       - *1851*, Herman Melville, *Moby Dick* *Here's a carcase. I know not
>       all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it
>laughing. Such
>       a waggish leering as lurks in all your horribles!*
>       - *1982*, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, *The
>       Genocide Convention: Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Relations,
>       United States Senate* *A lot of the possible horribles conjured up by
>       the people objecting to this convention
> ignore the plain language of this
>       treaty.*
>       - *1991*, Alastair Scott, *Tracks Across
> Alaska: A Dog Sled Journey* *The
>       pot had previously simmered skate wings, cods' heads, whales,
>pigs' hearts
>       and a long litany of other horribles.*
>       - *2000*, John Dean, CNN
>       January 21, 2000: *I'm trying to convince him that the criminal
>       behavior that's going on at the White House has to end. And I
>give him one
>       horrible after the next. I just keep raising them. He sort of swats
>       them away.*
>       - *2001*, Neil K. Komesar, *Law's Limits: The Rule of Law and the
>       Supply and Demand of Rights* *Many scholars have demonstrated these
>       horribles and contemplated significant limitations on class actions.*
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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