Some scholars use "Lovecraftian horror" and "cosmic horror" interchangeably. Cosmic horror has been characterized as:
- The "fear and awe we feel when confronted by phenomena beyond our comprehension, whose scope extends beyond the narrow field of human affairs and boasts of cosmic significance".
- A "contemplation of mankind's place in the vast, comfortless universe revealed by modern science" in which the horror springs from "the discovery of appalling truth".
- A naturalistic fusion of horror and science fiction in which presumptions about the nature of reality are "eroded".