1. Eliciting or deserving hatred.
2. Feeling or showing hatred: "After she'd drunk the cocktail ... Mary sat there seeing faces, hearing voices in a blank hateful haze" (John Dos Passos).
3. Informal Very unpleasant or unappealing: a hateful chore.
Synonyms: hateful, detestable, odious, offensive, repellent
These often interchangeable adjectives describe what elicits or deserves strong dislike, distaste, or revulsion. Hateful refers to what evokes hatred or deep animosity: "No vice is universally so hateful as ingratitude" (Joseph Priestley).
Detestable applies to what arouses abhorrence or scorn: detestable crimes against humanity. Something odious is the object of intense displeasure or aversion: "the odious practice of sending prisoners abroad to be tortured" (Ronald Dworkin).
Offensive applies to what offends or insults: an offensive suggestion that the writer was guilty of plagiarism. Something repellent arouses repugnance or disgust: "[The motion picture code] banned the portrayal of repellent subjects—the sale of women, surgical operations, cruelty to children and animals" (Jeffrey Meyers).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.