Word of the Week: Eldritch

Word: eldritch

Pronunciation: EL-drich

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: weird and sinister or ghostly

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Like many other writers who seek to better understand the various devices used in fiction (and/or are total nerds who enjoy getting lost in an endless vortex of information now and then), I spend much of my time browsing TV Tropes. Recently, while researching a video game I had just finished, I came across a trope known as the Eldritch Abomination, defined as a type of creature that disregards the natural laws of the universe and usually manifests as some grotesque monstrosity. Given that the creature being referred to is probably one of the most horrific and ghastly things I’ve ever seen in a video game, I’d say “eldritch” is a pretty accurate description!

Anything described as “eldritch” is weird, sinister, or ghostly. The origin of the word is uncertain; it possibly consists of the Old English root el- (“foreign” or “strange”) and the noun rīce (“realm” or “kingdom”). Another possibility is that the word is a variant of the Scottish adjective elphrish and derives from the Old English noun aelf, meaning “elf”.

When I first read about the Eldritch Abomination on TV Tropes, I actually assumed that “eldritch” was a name. I had never seen this word being used to describe something before, so I thought the trope might have been named after some character in a creepy story that I would never read or watch because I’m not a fan of horror. Having learned what the word really means, I’d now consider using it in some poetic verse or suspenseful science fiction story to describe a creature so ominous or otherworldly as to be beyond comprehension. If you like to write about beings, objects, or ideas that are strange and sinister in nature, you may have fun spinning stories around your “eldritch” creations!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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