05 April, 2013

#atozchallenge: [E]ldritch

 Today's stop on our month-long journey is on the doorstep of the wild and often magical world of fantasy. Namely, we'll be looking at one of the main elements of both high and dark fantasy fiction: the eldritch.

The most concise definition of eldritch can be described in a word: weird or eerie. Its origin, however,  is much more fun.

Eldritch was first used in 1508 and is thought to originate from the Middle English word elfriche, the combination of "elf" and the Old English "rice" or "riche," meaning kingdom. So, loosely translated, eldritch is referring to the elf kingdom or, its more common association, fairyland.

Basically, anything unearthly or beyond human reason is covered. Eldritch creatures in fantasy, for example, are often uncanny or even spooky or deal in powers beyond the understanding of other characters. Some authors, as well as gaming manuals, have used it to refer to magical weapons that can kill things from worlds beyond our own. Dungeons and Dragons, in particular, released an entire supplementary rulebook in 1976 called Eldritch Wizardry to introduce psionics and the druid class to the original edition of the game.

For fans of H.P. Lovecraft, the term is instantly recognizable as a macabre word used throughout his dark stories. A collection of his short fiction is contained in the book Eldritch Tales.

I think it's a fascinating word and one I wouldn't mind using in a story myself. What do you think? Are there other definitions or examples of eldritch magic that you've come across in fictional worlds?


  1. Definitely a cool word but, sometimes, over used these days.

  2. Heard this word around before, but never heard the background/definition that goes along with it before. I think you could do a lot of fun things with it. Great pick!

  3. I haven't heard this before. Something I'll have to check out.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah With Joy)

  4. One of my favorite words! My next book is called "Eldritch Witchery".

    Tim Brannan
    The Other Side and The Witch
    Red Sonja: She-Devil with a Sword
    The Freedom of Nonbelief


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