The distinction between terror and horror was first characterized by the Gothic writer Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823), horror being more related to being shocked or scared (being horrified) at an awful realisation or a deeply unpleasant occurrence, while terror is more related to being anxious or fearful. Radcliffe considered that terror is characterized by "obscurity" or indeterminacy in its treatment of potentially horrible events, something which leads to the sublime. She says in the essay that it "expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life". Horror, in contrast, "freezes and nearly annihilates them" with its unambiguous displays of atrocity. She goes on: "I apprehend that neither Shakespeare nor Milton by their fictions, nor Mr Burke by his reasoning, anywhere looked to positive horror as a source of the sublime, though they all agree that terror is a very high one; and where lies the great difference between horror and terror, but in uncertainty and obscurity, that accompany the first, respecting the dreader evil."
According to Devendra Varma in The Gothic Flame (1966):
The difference between Terror and Horror is the difference between awful apprehension and sickening realization: between the smell of death and stumbling against a corpse.