Green’s Dictionary of Slang

horrors, the n.

also blue horrors

1. a fit of depression, unpleasant worries.

[UK]O. Goldsmith Good Natur’d Man in Works IV 631/2: He is coming this way all in the horrors .
[UK]‘T.B. Junr.’ Pettyfogger Dramatized II vi: Now I must get drunk to-night or the damn’d horrors will get me; I shall be eat up by the blues.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Blue devils low spirits (see Horrors).
[UK]Flash Dict. [as cit. 1809].
[UK]Preston Chron. 1 Sept. 8/2: We adbise all troubled with [...] ennui, blue devils, the ‘horrors’ (either of this world or the next) to pay him a visit.
[UK]Dickens Bleak House (1991) 445: ‘It is a tainting sort of weather [...] and I find it sinking to the spirits.’ ‘By George! I find it gives me the horrors,’ returns Mr. Weevle.
[UK]Fife Herald 28 July 2/8: Brimstone and blue horrors, what ships there!
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 26/1: ‘Sermons or tracts,’ said one of their body to me, ‘gives them the ‘orrors’.
[UK]G.R. Sims Three Brass Balls 86: Don’t give me the horrors.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 July 4/2: Sometimes he was very happy. […] Sometimes he was very unhappy. He expressed his misery in melancholy wails. When he liked to be scornful, he was diabolically so. All this means that the man was in the ‘horrors.’.
[UK]Pearson’s Mag. 6 160/1: Why our old women'd have the blue horrors ef they thart we went further out than Old Harry Rock.
[UK]G.M. Fenn Sappers and Miners 170: I regularly got the horrors on me, for I was all alone.
Puritan May 176/1: I should think that in itself would be enough to give you the blue horrors.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Rathskeller and the Rose’ in Voice of the City (1915) 186: I just know that two hours at Cranberry Corners would give me the horrors now.
[UK]J. Buchan Greenmantle (1930) 285: I hoped to goodness they would not see us, for they had fairly given me the horrors.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 155: He has the prison horrors and turns to cheap larcenies and spends the balance of his life doing short sentences in small jails.
[UK]B. Lubbock Bully Hayes 67: If that weren’t enough to give us the purple horrors [...] showing out of the water, were half a dozen shark’s fins.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bulletin 18 Nov. 7/4: By cripes, it’s enough to give a bloke the blue ’orrers.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 322: Then back again to Sara in the blue horrors in case Rozzie should have wired or some kind friend written and exposed the system.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 66: Tony’s bar still gave me the horrors.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 10: Listenin’ ter you wingein’s givin’ ’im the horrors. [Ibid.] 84: All them pictures [...] Give yer the horrors.
J.R. Browne Etchings of a Whaling Cruise 169: There was no denying that he had the horrors! the blue horrors first, and then the black horrors, and, lastly, the concentrated essence of both.
[Aus] in K. Gilbert Living Black 145: I’ve been in the fuckin’ horrors and I’ve been in mental homes and come out four times.
[UK]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 89: In the end I got the horrors. I used to sit there not caring whether I lived or died.
[Aus]T. Winton Lockie Leonard, Legend (1998) 32: ‘It’s Mum,’ said Lockie, ‘She’s giving me the horrors’.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 131: Yeah, them night horrors [...] Ain’t they a bitch.

2. delirium tremens; often as in the horrors; ext. as blue horrors; cast-iron/stonewall horrors.

[US]C.F. Briggs Adventures of Harry Franco I 188: A jug of rum, of which he drank so constantly, that the delirium tremens, or, as the sailors called it, the horrors, was the consequence.
[US]G.F. Ruxton Life in the Far West (1849) 70: Paying the penalty in a fit of horrors.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 136: The vicinity of such a material dame [...] was sufficient to destroy the ideal in the most brandy-sodden brain, and the horrors left their victim for the time.
[UK]Dickens Our Mutual Friend (1994) 136: What are popularly called ‘the trembles’ being in full force upon him that evening, and likewise what are popularly called the horrors, he had a very bad time of it.
[UK]Besant & Rice Son of a Vulcan I 67: I had ’em last night, Pat. I had the horrors worse than iver.
[UK]R.L. Stevenson Treasure Island 20: If I don’t have a drain o’ rum, Jim, I’ll have the horrors.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Lost Souls’ Hotel’ in Roderick (1972) 155: If a poor devil came along in the horrors, with every inch of him jumping, and snakes, and green-eyed yahoos, and flaming-nosed bunyips chasing him, we’d take him in and give him soothing draughts.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Bonds of Discipline’ in Traffics and Discoveries 54: I don’t get the horrors off two glasses o’ brown sherry.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘The Cast-iron Canvasser’ in Three Elephant Power 29: The sergeant knew what was the matter; it was a man in the horrors, a common enough spectacle at Ninemile.
[Ire]L. Doyle Dear Ducks 93: Dick took himself upstairs to bed with a bottle of whisky an’ dhrank himself near into the horrors.
[UK]A. Christie Three Act Tragedy (1964) 143: Just because they get hold of you when you’ve got the horrors.
[Aus]A. Marshall These Are My People (1957) 144: Once you’ve had the horrors you never forget ’em.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 135: I watched curiously. ‘I got the horrors,’ I thought matter of factly.
[Ire]B. Behan Brendan Behan’s Island (1984) 130: ‘Stephen,’ he said, ‘tell me, I think I’m in the horrors. Could that possibly be a gennet?’ ‘Yes, it is,’ said my father. ‘Thank God,’ said my grandfather, ‘I thought I was in delerium tremors and I was seeing gennets instead of rats.’.
[Aus] in K. Gilbert Living Black 142: My wife said, ‘What’s wrong with you? You in the horrors?’.
P. Quarrington Life of Hope 56: He had the whoops and jingles, the blue horrors, alcohol dementia.
[UK]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 95: I’ve got the shakes and I’m going into the horrors from the drink. Can I have some Largactil, please?
[Ire]J. O’Connor Salesman 115: I was lifted again [...] not drunk this time but badly in the horrors, gibbering, seeing visions and swaying all over the road.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] Horrors (n): drunk, e.g. I was in the horrors last night.

3. a hangover.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly II 215: Says he’s goin’ to have the horrors, he does – yah! ye drunken pig.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Feb. 7/3: Lady Westbury was the daughter of a poor curate in Devonshire, who married Lord W. (when in the ‘horrors’) on spec.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age Of Consent 105: He’d draw out the lot and go on a bender that landed him in the horrors.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 135: It was dark when I woke up, and I heard footsteps. I didn’t know whether it was alive or what it was. I thought I was in the horrors.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 21 May 14: I ordered sky on rye [...] hold the horrors.

4. unpleasant reactions suffered during the withdrawal from narcotic drugs.

[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 136: That rat, Finnery, the trusty [...] has got a ton of it [i.e. morphine] out there to sell, but he wouldn’t give us a jolt if we had the horrors.
[UK](con. mid-1960s) J. Patrick Glasgow Gang Observed 124: All feared ‘the horrors’ which followed days of drug-taking.
[UK]S. McConville ‘Prison Language’ in Michaels & Ricks (1980) 526: Cold turkey, the sudden stopping of narcotics consumption, can lead to the horrors.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 167: We were in the real horrors by nine a.m. Saturday.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 61: All-a horrors av gone now like, a brown horrors [...] bones ternin’ t’jelly, splintered like, split, a horrendous fuckin aches an a.
[UK]R. Antoni Carnival 46: ‘Oh, William,’ she said, ‘do the horrors ever end?’.

5. unpleasant experiences (usu. paranoid fantasies) brought about occas. by the effects of drug-taking, usu. smoking cannabis, opium or from taking a hallucinogen.

[Aus]New Call (Perth, WA) 21 Apr. 12/7: ‘There’s enough cocaine in that saucer to send them all in the horrors for the rest of the night’.
[UK] Connell in New Society 20 Feb. n.p.: Hallucinations [...] This is what the pill taker calls ‘the horrors’.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 152: I gotta watch this now, ’cause I’m prone to the horrors when I’m high.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] [in context of a narcotic overdose] ‘How’re ye, y’all right?’ ‘I’m in the fuckin horrors, man’.
[UK]Fabian & Byrne Out of Time (ms.) 121: Her untutored mind had given way under the onslaught of Seymour’s galactic acid. She was in the grip of the horrors, screaming and tearing at the bedclothes.

In phrases

dig the horrors (v.)

see separate entries.