Monday, October 27, 2014

Coffin Hop 2014: Post #2: Eerie

Like many words, the meaning of eerie has altered over the centuries. Ask anyone today and they'll likely tell you it describes something mysterious, uncanny, or spine-chilling. We're not quite sure about something eerie. We just know it's strange, not quite right. The first evidence of that meaning—something evoking fear because of its strangeness—is from 1792. Previously, eerie meant someone was timid or affected with superstitious fear. Somehow usage transferred eerie from the victim to the object inspiring the fear. Both meanings are still with us today, though the original meaning lives on chiefly in Scottish areas. If you want to sound clever (or simply confusing), you can employ both meanings in the same sentence: The eerie boy hid behind a bush when he heard the eerie howl.

Eerie (also spelled eery) derives from Middle English eri, which is a north England and Scottish variant of Old English earg, meaning cowardly. Earg comes from Proto-Germanic *argaz, which has cognates in Old Frisian erg (evil), Middle Dutch arch (bad), Old High German arg (cowardly), German arg (wicked), Old Norse argr (unmanly), and Swedish arg (malicious). Interesting how the meanings of the cognates range from something cowardly to something wicked.

The name of the city Erie in northwestern Pennsylvania or the great lake have nothing to do with things mysterious or uncanny. Both names are shortened forms of Erielhonan, a Native American people that lived in the area. The Erielhonan were decimated in wars with the neighboring Iroquois during the 17th century and were eventually absorbed into the Seneca nation.

Don't forget to enter the raffle for my urban fantasy novelette Give Me Your Teeth: A Fae Tale. It's in pre-order mode on Amazon, set for release on Halloween. Enter to win here (Coffin Hop Post #1).

Soul CutterLooking for something creepy to haunt your fall evenings? Jeff recommends Lexa Cain's Soul Cutter, on sale for 99 cents through October.

The Soul Cutter is hunting again.

Seventeen-year-old Élan spends her free time videoing psychic scams and outing them online. Skepticism makes life safe—all the ghosts Élan encounters are fakes. When her estranged mother disappears from a film shoot in Egypt, Élan puts her medium-busting activities on hold and joins the search.

In Egypt, the superstitious film crew sucks at finding her mom. When a hotel guest is killed, whispers start—the locals think their legendary Soul Cutter has come back from the dead. Élan's only ally is Ramsey, a film-crew intern, but he’s arrogant, stubborn—and hiding dangerous secrets.

When Élan discovers the Soul Cutter is no scam, she finds herself locked in a deadly battle against a supernatural killer with more than her mother’s life at stake.

Élan's fighting for her very soul.

From my review: If you're searching for a suspenseful read in an exotic local with a heavy dose of supernatural chills, Soul Cutter is the book for you. Highly recommended.

Check out other coffins in the hop:


  1. I didn't realize eery was still in use. I did know Lake Erie was named after an Indian tribe though.

  2. Very interesting article Jeff - I love words and the different ways we can use them!

  3. Wow! Thanks for the cool information, Jeff. I like learning about words and word usage! I didn't know about Lake Erie either . . . I think I was taking a line too seriously from a certain Disney movie with leprechauns and something about Ireland and a mispronunciation of it . . . now, I don't remember the movie name, I just remember part of it (had the same actor who played Detective Lassiter on Psych) . . . and my brain makes strange connections sometimes.
    Again, thanks for the word info!

  4. Appreciate the linguistic info--cool post!

  5. Great post, very informative. I didn't know that eerie meant 'timid' at one time! :)

  6. The way language has evolved from the earliest times just fascinates me. Thanks for sharing this!

    Happy hopping!