Word of The Day for Sunday, October 31, 2010


el•dritch (EL-drich)  adj

weird, spooky, eerie, unearthly, alien, supernatural

Synonyms: weird, spooky, eerie, unearthly, alien, supernatural

• And the woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch sing-song, turned with a skip, and was gone. - Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886

• Pearl, in utter scorn of her mother's attempt to quiet her, gave an eldritch scream, and then became silent. -The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1850

The Storyline
It was a moment so detached from her present reality that it felt almost eldritch.

1500–10; Middle English from earlier elrich, equiv. to OE el*- (“foreign, strange, uncanny”) + rice** "realm, kingdom"; hence “of a strange country, pertaining to the Otherworld”
   * else
    O.E. elles "other, otherwise, different," from P.Gmc. *aljaz (cf. Goth. aljis "other," O.H.G. eli-lenti, O.E. el-lende, both meaning "in a foreign land;" see also Alsace), an adverbial genitive of the neut. of PIE base *al- "beyond"
   ** rich
    O.E. rice "wealthy, powerful, mighty," from P.Gmc. *rikijaz (cf. O.N. rikr, O.H.G. rihhi "ruler, powerful, rich," O.Fris. rike, Du. rijk, Ger. reich "rich," Goth. reiks "ruler, powerful, rich"), borrowed from a Celtic source akin to Gaulish *rix, O.Ir. ri (gen. rig) "king," from PIE base *reg- "move in a straight line," hence, "direct, rule" (see rex). The form of the word infl. in M.E. by O.Fr. riche "wealthy," from Frank. *riki "powerful," from the Gmc. source. The evolution of the word reflects a connection between wealth and power in the ancient world. Of food and colors, from early 14c.; of sounds, from 1590s. Sense of "entertaining, amusing" is recorded from 1760. The noun meaning "the wealthy" was in O.E.

Sources: Wiktionary

Why This Word:
Happy Halloween! What wordie could pass on an obscure word for eerie today? This word grows from the connection between foreign and dangerous. In its parts, it means "other realm". That together apparently has meant spooky and eerie, other-worldly - a reminder that most of our superstitious fears are really projections of our earthly insecurities.

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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