kill one's darlings

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From a reported remark by William Faulkner (1897-1962), advising prospective authors that they must kill their "darlings", i.e. suppress overuse of their favorite expressions, tropes, characters, etc.

Verb[edit]

kill one's darlings

  1. (idiomatic) To destroy, especially with conflicted motives, things or persons of which one is fond.
    • 2008 Jan. 20, Virginia Heffernan, "Art in the Age of Franchising," New York Times (retrieved 16 April 2015):
      [Fans] won’t participate in online dialogues and events, visit message boards and chat rooms or design games. As a result, platforms for supplementary advertising aren’t built, starving even the shows fans profess to love . . . . Aloof and passive fans kill their darlings.
    • 2011 Jan. 30, Theodore Bale, "Choreographer Koresh debuts Sense of Human," Houston Chronicle (retrieved 16 April 2015):
      In sharp contrast to choreographers who try to build a repertory that reflects an ongoing personal style, Koresh prefers to "kill his darlings," as he puts it, and start from scratch.
    • 2015 March 28, Ted Loos, "The Whitney Museum’s New Home," Wall Street Journal (retrieved 16 April 2015):
      As the curators sifted through more than 100 years of artworks, disagreements inevitably arose. “We all had to kill our darlings,” says Foster.