Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Fell

fell

Merriam-Webster says:
First adjective for WCW: a: fierce, cruel, terrible b: sinister, malevolent c: very destructive.

Value:
Using this word to get the full effect is tricky. It's not common, it's on the archaic side, it's on the purple side, I suspect. Going to call this a twenty-five cent word. Best used with a handful of ten-cent words to prep the reader IMO.

More specific than:
Scary, horrible or any of the words listed in its definition. In my mind, this adjective is for slavering beasts that chase you through the woods at midnight.

Word relationships:
Merriam-Webster lists some synonyms, most of which are lower-impact than fell. But there are a few that I think it shares that peculiar balance of archaic purple-ness. Baleful. Mortal, as an adjective -- a mortal wound. Stygian belongs in that group too. Abyssal. Why do these words get a bad rap? Because they're a bit archaic? Were over-used in the past? How long does it take a word to recover from over-use? (because we need awesome back, IMO).

What comes to your mind? Post a sentence using it? (can you do it without turning completely purple?)

3 comments:

D U Okonkwo said...

I think I'm too scared to try and construct a sentence! I may not just turn purple, but explode aswell! :o)

Summer Frey said...

This shows my stripes, but as soon as I saw "fell" I instantly thought "fell blade." Yes, the fell blade is a very wicked sword in the MMORPG that I play...

Rita de Heer said...

Read Sheri S Tepper, The Visitors for a fell beast. Abysmal, stygian and baleful don't even go halfway to telling what he is.

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