murder one's darlings

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Possibly first used by Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863–1944) during a series of lectures at the University of Cambridge, later published in book form.[1]


murder one's darlings (third-person singular simple present murders one's darlings, present participle murdering one's darlings, simple past and past participle murdered one's darlings)

  1. Alternative form of kill one's darlings.
    • 1916, Arthur Quiller-Couch, “On Style”, in On The Art of Writing[2]:
      Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.


  1. ^ Arthur Quiller-Couch (1916) “On Style”, in On the Art of Writing[1]