Thursday, 13 June 2013

Macabre - A Nice Word??

What a scary word macabre is to most people…
The dictionary defines 'Macabre' as ghastly or gruesome but in my mind, I always associate it with supernatural goings on. Books such as Stephen King’s “Danse Macabre” also spring to mind.  In his book King talks about the world of horror writing and it’s history and origins – an adventurous read if you are interested in horror literature. When I looked up the term ‘Danse Macabre’, I discovered that it appears to originate in medieval times and signified skeletons and other dead spirits dancing and leading mortals to their grave. A kind of unholy procession. There are quite a few artists’ impressions from that time depicting dancing gleeful skeletons holding hands with the dead and the still living.  Ugh! Nice pictures…
But I am thinking of the more common use of the word nowadays.  Macabre seems to be a word used for describing a grim or ghastly atmosphere.  It is generally only found in horror/paranormal -type literature. I think it is a wonderfully descriptive word which everyone knows the meaning of but it is rarely used in everyday conversation.
It’s almost as if it is beyond our understanding and therefore terrifying.  When one is struggling to describe a scary atmosphere or aura macabre is a good word to use…
Do you have favourite words that are relevant to your genre?


  1. You're oh so right about 'macabre.' Just typing the word gave me a mental shiver. It's interesting how this word has held firm when others have somewhat lost their luster.

  2. Macabre is an interesting word. It reminds me of a gathering of grim reapers.

    I can't think of a relevant genre word that I love.

  3. I don't have a favorite genre word. Macabre? C'est Francais. I like it.


  4. I love that word, macabre! Perhaps the fact it is so rarely used in everyday conversation is why it has retained its strength :-) x

  5. I love the word macabre! But there are lots of fun words with related or similar meanings -- bizarre, ghastly, gruesome ... I love using them all!

  6. Funnily enough, I have been researching the music of Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens for a story and it's so atmospheric that I've been listening to it while I write. My typing seems to vary its speed according to which part of the piece is playing! It speeds up when the xylophones are evoking the skeletons' bones rattling away!
    I wish I knew which genre is mine, but I think the best word for the writing I'm doing now that I have stopped the women's magazine stories is shadowy. Not exactly dark or chilling. But definitely in the shadows. x