Thursday, 4 June 2015

Eldritch - The Weird and Beyond

A monochrome drawing of black, hairy, grinning spider
Smiling Spider (1891) by Odilon Redon

ELDRITCH

Adjective. Originally Scottish. Early 16th century.
[Origin uncertain: perhaps connected with ELF noun.]

Weird, ghostly, unnatural; hideous.

The adjective eldritch calls to mind a number of otherworldy artists - H. P. Lovecraft, for one, whose genuinely unsettling tales of weirdness are often associated with the word. Another is the French artist Odilon Redon, who said that his drawings place us in "the ambiguous world of the undetermined." Even if you're not an arachnophobe, you will perhaps agree that Redon's Smiling Spider is an example of unsettling, eldritch art.

Do please leave your weirdest comments in the box below.

3 comments:

  1. It's hard for me initially not to be reminded of my teenage hair-crimping goth days listening to Bauhaus, Siouxsie & the Banshees when I see the word "eldritch" and especially The Sisters of Mercy's frontman Andrew Eldritch.
    As a word "eldritch" has a certain eerie whiff of a "braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht" about it, or in other words, sounds like it's from the Scots language which I suppose could be connected with or suggestive of elves along the lines of Old English ælfrīce ‘fairy kingdom' but it could quite plausibly be derived from a form of Old English glossing the meaning of "otherworldly" as in "el-lænde" adj. "strange, foreign".

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    Replies
    1. You're right about the sound of the word - it reminds me of the word 'chthonic' (covered in Lexi here), in that its awkwardness somehow matches its unsettling definition.

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