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In a word: eldritch

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be acquainted, another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


Eldritch (pronounced EL-drich) means weird, eerie, sinister, ghostly, unnatural, or frightful. 

Often the word of the week here is a Latin or Greek derivative, but this week's word appears to be of Scottish origin. The earliest citation in the OED is from William Dunbar in 1508: "There was Pluto, the elrich incubus."

Though its origin isn't entirely clear, it may well derive from elf, which was aelf or ylf in Old English, and -ric, the Old English rice and Middle English -riche for "realm," "power," "dominion."

Example: From Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter: "Pearl, in utter scorn of her mother's attempt to quiet her, gave an eldritch scream. ..."

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