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From the earlier form elritch, of uncertain origin. The second element, -ritch, is generally taken to be Old English rīċe (realm, kingdom) (see riche). Some think that the first element, el-, derives from an Old English root meaning "foreign, strange, other" (related to Old English ellende and modern English else); others think that it derives from elf.[1][2] Reintroduced into popular literature by the writings of H. P. Lovecraft.


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛl.dɹɪt͡ʃ/
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eldritch (comparative more eldritch, superlative most eldritch)

  1. Unearthly, supernatural, eerie, preternatural.
    • 1790, Robert Burns, Tam o' Shanter:
      So Maggie runs, the witches follow,
      Wi' mony an eldritch skriech and hollo.
    • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, chapter VII, in The Scarlet Letter:
      Pearl, in utter scorn of her mother's attempt to quiet her, gave an eldritch scream, and then became silent.
    • 2011, James D. Hornfischer, “28: Into the Light”, in Neptune's Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal[1], New York: Bantam Books, →ISBN, retrieved 23 November 2022, page 276:
      The large vessel's dark form was massive, eldritch, as it loomed off the Cushing's port bow in the flash-lit darkness. This was the Hiei. The recognition of the battleship spread down the van, from the Cushing to the Laffey to the Sterett to the O'Bannon.


  1. ^ eldritch”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. ^ eldritch”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1996–present.