from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Strange or unearthly; eerie.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Local, Eng. Hideous; ghastly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective unearthly, alien, supernatural, weird, spooky, eerie

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective suggesting the operation of supernatural influences


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Perhaps Middle English *elriche : Old English el-, strange, other; see al- in Indo-European roots + Old English rīce, realm; see reg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English from earlier elrich, equivalent to Old English el- ("foreign, strange, uncanny") (see else ) + rīċe "realm, kingdom" (see rich ); hence “of a strange country, pertaining to the Otherworld”; compare Old English ellende "in a foreign land, exiled" (compare German Elend "penury, distress" and Dutch ellende "misery"), Runic Norse alja-markir "foreigner".


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  • "I anticipated some such reception, he began with an eldritch laugh, for which, it seems, history is to blame."

    Joyce, Ulysses, 14

    January 21, 2007

  • etymology is 'elf kingdom' (the word for kingdom in Old English being 'rice' like in the German 'reich')

    March 26, 2007

  • There's something remarkably satisfying about this word. Eldritch. Eldritch. Eldritch.

    To me, it conjures up weird images of Ethelred the Unready, waking up in some kind of a ditch, after a particularly unsatisfying altercation with the ditch-phuca.

    April 16, 2008

  • Blecch. Not to me. I was in a production of "The Rimers of Eldritch" years ago and I loathed it. So now the word makes me think of that experience. *shudders*

    April 16, 2008

  • Ditch-phuca? In lieu of actually knowing what you mean, I have to assume that you are talking about some sort of Old World chupacabra.

    Poor Ethelred!

    April 16, 2008

  • It's a dull word. Could be the name of a stodgy cricket player who only scores runs between mid-on and mid-off. "Yes, it's a fine knock by Eldritch today who looks as if he'll make ten by lunch. All in singles of course but lovely technique. I haven't seen a left elbow so high since Kippax and indeed Trumper."

    April 16, 2008

  • Am I the only one here to think of the singer from Sisters of Mercy?

    I'll get me cloak...

    April 16, 2008

  • I'd never seen this word before reading H. P. Lovecraft. He manages to stick it at least once into each of his stories.

    January 21, 2010

  • It's the tolling of faint elfin bells which
    Makes night in each dingle and dell rich
    With sounds that awaken
    Deep mem'ries forsaken,
    And echoes most eerily eldritch.

    September 7, 2014

  • Judging from comments submitted in years past this word is very evocative - of Anglo-Saxon kings, obscure dramas, boring cricketers, faded rock stars, etc… It brings to my mind a name that a clever marketeer might coin for one of those retirement homes for the wealthy that proliferate these days: “Eldritch House.” It suggests a dignified final haven for the elderly rich while at the same time discouraging trespassers.

    September 7, 2014

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    July 8, 2015