Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Barghest – Boo! Wordplay Wednesday™ 10/14/2020

What a Cute Black Puppy! Until He Isn’t …

Halloween’s gaggle of goblins, witches, moans and groans are more fun than frightening, and a welcome relief to real horrors of life. Especially if you’re into fiction writing that can delve into this month’s gamut of wicked words. Another ghastly ghoul for your vocabulary list awaits …

"Black Shuck" church of Bungay
BARGHEST (bärʹgestʹ) n. (Eng. Folklore) – a doglike goblin whose appearance supposedly foreshadows death or bad luck. [WW #290]

Though an entry in the 2014 Webster’s dictionary,* barghest is not in the 2020. So be it. It’s folklore … I doubt that it’s just going to go away.

The Northern English folk myths generally depict the barghest as a black dog with oversized teeth and paws with claws to match his monster-sized body; but he can in some geographical tall tales, appear ghostly or as an evil elf.

Over centuries of terrifying tellings, a barghest is generally regarded as a bad omen and may show up as a horrifying shapeshifter. In recent accounts it has come to mean any malevolent black dog. That covers a lot of territory!

cacodemon, last week’s wicked word, barghest is rooted in pop culture. Its canine creepiness can be found in the usual online fantasy games, and mentioned in novels like Roald Dahl’s The Witches. (See its 1990 movie remade for a 2020 HBO film. Believe it or not, it’s a comedy!) And for another TV movie think the Karpf 1978 film, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell and a dog named “Lucky”—not so much.

Meet "Lucky"

In addition to a howl-o-ween wicked word for fun and fright, barghest is an enticing reference for your fantasy fiction and beyond. Give your writing a scream!

Word Challenge: BARGHEST. Most wicked words are centuries old (this one as early as 1577). Think about their origins, as you fit barghest into your week of howling writings and creepy conversations.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 

Cheers to learning a new word today!

Wicked Witch of the West


[LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books in her Blast from Your Past series (of three) about pioneering R&R Radio DJs. True behind-the-mic tales make GREAT Holiday and anytime Gifts available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!]

*LR Notes: 1) Dictionary definitions are quoted from Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Yes, we sometimes present them out of “official” context—but that’s half the fun! Think of it as “creative context.” 2) a] Recent dictionary additions to definitions include a date of first use, if known; b] words in small caps indicate “see also.” 3) Neither I (LinDee Rochelle) nor Penchant for Penning are responsible for how you use information found here, that may result in legal action.



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