Thursday, October 19, 2017

Language of Confusion: More Deaths

First of all, the Online Etymology Dictionary updated its website and it’s awesome. Second of all, more death related words!

Drown showed up in the fourteenth century. It’s thought to be from the Old English druncnian, swallowed up by water, and possibly related to druncen, which means drunk (as in intoxicated) and drincan, to drink. And yes, that’s the origin word for drink, which is where drench comes from.

Starve comes from the Old English steorfan, which actually means to die, believe it or not, coming from the Proto Germanic sterban, to be stiff. It didn’t mean die from hunger until the sixteenth century, where “starve from hunger” was a phrase for several centuries. I guess they eventually dropped the last part, which makes sense. We have plenty of words for die but no other one specifically related to dying from a lack of food.

Bludgeon, a word I don’t get to use nearly enough, showed up in the 1730s with no real known origin. Some think it might be from the Dutch blusden, but they aren’t really sure. I posit that someone said it by accident once and it was so fun to say that everyone picked up on it.

Poison showed up in the thirteenth century as a noun and a century later as a verb. It’s from the Old French poison/puison, which was a drink, usually medical but sometimes also in the magic potion sense. Before that it was the classical Latin potionem, medicine, which, I mean, yeah, obviously that’s where potion is from. Anyway, potionem comes from potare, to water or to drink, which is from the Proto Indo European root word poi-, the origin of a weird number of words that you wouldn’t expect. Like, you’ve got imbibe on that list, and beer, and also symposium. And finally, fun fact of the day: in Old English the word for poison was ator!

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Scary Movies 2017

More Halloween spooktacular fun! This week: movies.

Hell House LLC
This is pretty standard found footage fare, but it does manage to bring with it some genuinely creepy moments. A group of people are documenting their creation of a Halloween house, which happens to take place in a notorious hotel. Creepy stuff starts happening, obviously. There’s nothing new here, but I liked it and would suggest giving it a try if you’re having a scary movie night.

The Void
This movie is pretty bad in terms of story, characters, acting, and pretty much everything else. Its one shining asset is the amazing special effects used to create the monsters. I would recommend this only because it’s watchable enough to endure so you can enjoy some really cool monsters. If you like eighties horror movies, this will be right up your alley.

Mr. Jones
Okay, if I’m being honest, I put this movie on the list because I have no idea what the hell it was about and I’m hoping that if someone else watches it, they’ll be able to figure it out. If it had more focus, it might have actually been good. The basic plot is that a couple discovers that a man living out in the woods is a mysterious artist who sends creepy figures to random people, something which is never really explained. Which…yeah, “never really explained” sums up most of the movie. You get some hints and some speculation, but not nearly enough. I’m not someone who needs every little thing explained in great detail, but something would have been nice. So skip it unless you want to see some creepy imagery.

Dark Skies
Probably the movie here that I most enjoyed. It’s a typical alien abduction story, this time involving a whole family, and it has some of the usual horror movie tropes, i.e. the dad refusing to accept that it’s true after everyone else has. But it’s still enjoyable and genuinely creepy at times, and everything about it felt well done. Definitely try it out.

I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
This Netflix original is about the caregiver of an elderly writer, but it’s also about the writer’s most famous novel, about a ghost that might very well live in the house. It’s, well, atmospheric. I guess that’s the best thing I can say about it. I liked it, but it’s probably not something I’d watch again, and I have to say I doubt a lot of people would enjoy it. If you want a gothic ghost story in the modern era, this is definitely it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Sometimes my mom makes me go walking with her. One time I found a really neat looking feather. Another time…

It ended up just being a statue, but it was hard to tell unless you were really close. And I never did find whatever it was that ran across the road.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Language of Confusion: Feelings of Worry

These feelings certainly feel appropriate for Halloween season. At least to me.

Worry used a lot as a noun these days, but it didn’t appear as one until 1804. Before that it was just a verb, coming from the Old English wyrgan, which actually means to strangle. It comes from the Proto Germanic wurgjan and Proto Indo European wer-, turn or bend, a word that’s the origin of a ton of other words. Just so many.

One of my least favorite words, anxiety showed up in the early-mid sixteenth century from the classical Latin anxietatem, anxiety. Anxious didn’t show up until a century later, coming from the Latin anxius, worried, which is related to angere, writhe, and anguere, snake. Um, the verb snake, not the reptile. Although I think that’s where the name for the reptile comes from. Anyway, the word can be further traced back to the Proto Indo European angh-, which is where we get anger, and also angst. Speaking of which...

Angst is a very young word, having shown up in 1944. It started as a term in psychology that came from the German word angst, which just means anxiety. And as I said, it can be traced to angh-.

Nervous showed up in the fifteenth century, where it meant “affecting the sinews”, which apparently can mean a tendon or asource of power (I’ve heard that word but I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it used). Of course it’s related to nerve, coming from the classical Latin nervosus and nervus, which means sinew. That word seems to be popping up a lot here.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Scary Games

Because it’s that time of year again.

You Find Yourself In A Room
Not so much scary as it is psychological, this game is a text based adventure, where you type in words and the game responds almost like a story. Except in this case the game hates you. There are a few puzzles, but they are very simple. Mostly it’s just typing “look” and the game yelling at you. Anyway, it’s a fun, if weird, way to pass the time. Be warned, there is some swearing in this.

Don’t Escape
In a twist on the escape the room genre, in these three games you want to be locked in as securely as possible. They’re a mix of time management and point-and-click, and manage to be both tense and enjoyable. Go check them out when you have some time.

Deep Sleep
I’ve actually mentioned this game and its sequel before, but now the third and final game is out and you can play through the entire series. They are very atmospheric games, Lovecraftian almost. You know, without the racism.

You doing anything Halloween-y this month? Anything scary you want to share? 

Saturday, October 7, 2017


I imagine doing this a lot.
It would be much more satisfying if they didn’t have the brain of an insect.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Language of Confusion: Murderous Methods

Time for more etymology of scary things! Today’s topic: ways to kill someone.

Stab first showed up in the late fourteenth century, interestingly enough coming to us from Scottish the word stob, which also means stab. I think this is the first time I’ve ever featured a word of Scottish origin here. I can’t believe they’re the ones we have to thank for it!

Shoot comes from the Old English sceotan, which could mean shoot or drag or even move quickly. Makes sense since shooting does happen quickly. Anyway, it comes from the Proto Germanic skeutanan, which is from the Proto Indo European skeund-, shoot, chase, or throw and is the origin of words like sheet (seriously), shout, shut, and shuttle. But it’s the sheet one that really gets to me.

Strangle showed up in the late thirteenth century from the Old French estrangler and before that the classical Latin strangulare, which you know just means strangle. They took it from the Greek strangalan, choke or twist, from strangos, twisted. That word can in turn be traced back to the Proto Indo European strenk-, narrow or twist, and the origin word for string. Which you can use to strangle someone with!

Choke showed up in the fourteenth century as another word for strangle before morphing into to suffocate, like from swallowing something. Choke is actually from a former English word, acheken, from the Old English aceocian, choke or suffocate. Before that, it’s thought to come from another Old English word, ceoke, which means…cheek.

Suffocate showed up in the early fifteenth century, coming straight from the classical Latin suffocatus, which meant deprive from air. Or, you know, suffocate. It comes from the verb suffocare, to suffocate or smother, a mix of the prefix sub-, from under, and fauces, throat. And the origin of faucet! That makes more sense than mixing from under and throat and getting suffocate.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English