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Sunday, February 21, 2016

8 WORDS FOR MURDER, by Mollie Hunt

What mystery writer can avoid murder? Most mysteries involve at least one homicide and often more. Many more! But even if it’s only the one, you can bet that despicable act will be mentioned multiple times. How do we keep from repeating ad nauseam the simple word, murder?

Well, that is the question, isn’t it? The answer seems to be, We don’t. Though there are many synonyms for the act of taking someone’s life, using them in a quotable sentence seems to be another matter. When I perused the web for apt passages, I found very few variations on the standard murder-murdering-murdered murderer.


1. Killing:Killing is not so easy as the innocent believe.”  -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

2. Slay: “Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.” -William Faulkner

3. Exterminate: “Exterminate!” the Daleks, Doctor Who
4. Extinguish: “Kill me? Lex Luthor? Extinguish the greatest criminal flame of our age? Eradicate the only man on Earth with Superman's address?” -Superman II

5. Slaughter: “I was in the war. I know how to kill. I was over there. I know how to do it. I've done it before. It's no big deal. You just make an adjustment. You convince yourself it's all right. That's all. It's easy. You just slaughter them.”  -Sam Shepard, Curse of the Starving Class


6. Deathwork : “If your work is deathwork, one weapon is not enough, just as a plumber would not answer an urgent service call with a single wrench.”  -Dean Koontz, Brother Odd

7. Dispatch: “And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire.” -The Bible, Ezekiel 23

8. Snuff: “First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.” -Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)


So, fellow writers, let’s purge, butcher, and erase our victims; let’s off them, terminate them, take them out; let’s waste them and put them down. Whether homicide, manslaughter, or assassination, there are plenty of words to describe besides tiresome and overused murder.


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Happy reading!


1 comment:

  1. Can you imagine a detective saying of a dead person, "they have been exterminated"? Somehow the word "murder" evokes the perfect combination of violence and the need for justice to be served.
    A very provocative post, Mollie. All the best to you.