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

  • adj. Strange or unearthly; eerie.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. unearthly, alien, supernatural, weird, spooky, eerie

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Hideous; ghastly.

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

  • adj. suggesting the operation of supernatural influences


Perhaps Middle English *elriche : Old English el-, strange, other; see al-1 in Indo-European roots + Old English rīce, realm; see reg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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". (Wiktionary)



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  • 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

  • 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 stirs echoes most eerily eldritch.

    September 7, 2014

  • 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

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

    I'll get me cloak...

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    March 26, 2007

  • "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

  • December 5, 2006