Eldritch Effulgence: HP Lovecraft's favorite words

CthulhuChick is editing the ebook edition of the complete works of HP Lovecraft, so she decided to see how often Cthulhudaddy's favorite words crop up in his oeuvre:
Abnormal - 94
Accursed - 76
Antediluvian - 10
Antiqu (e/arian) - 128
Blasphem (y/ous) - 92
Charnel - 20
Comprehension - 9
Cyclopean - 47
Decadent - 32
Daemoniac - 55
Effulgence - 4
Eldritch - 23
Faint (ed/ing) - 189
Gibbous - 9
Hideous - 260
Immemorial - 25
Wordcount for Lovecraft's Favorite Words (via Tor)

(Image: J_20 College Hill - The H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Plaque at 22 Prospect Street, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from cthulhuwho1's photostream)


  1. I thought his favorite word was “Lovecraft.” Love his stuff but he’s the only writer where I’ll actually recommend the abridged versions.

  2. More interesting would be a breakdown per story. I’ve got the feeling he had particular favourite words while writing particular stories. I forgot which one had “blasphemous” almost every other sentence, but that was definitely overdoing it a bit.

  3. @mcv I haven’t done that yet, but I did notice some things where words were more frequent. Blasphemous is often used near the end of a story. It’s also used often (5 or 6 times, I think) in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

    1. Only 5 or 6 times in Charles Dexter Ward? I considered that the main candidate for the story that had such an overdose of “blasphemous”. I expected it to be at least a dozen. Did you count all variations, like “blasphemy”, “blasphemousness” (0 times, I hope), and whatever else I’m unable to think of?

      1. In the first wordcount, I used “blasphem.” The 5 or 6 I noted in CDW were from searching through it for straight up “blasphemous.” I’d say there were probably a couple other instances of variations I missed.

  4. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of eldritch voices who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We’ve been asked to pause for a sanity check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this city false hope.

    But in the hideous story that is Innsmouth, there has never been
    anything false about hope. For when we have faced down or fainted at antediluvian horrors; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we are blasphemies, generations of abnormal monstrosities have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a half-fish half-people.
    Yes we can. It was a creed written into the Necronomicon that declared the destiny of a decadent, rotting town.

    Yes we can. It was whispered by shoggoths and Deep Ones as they blazed an effulgent trail toward the darkest of nights.
    Yes we can. It was sung by antique, cyclopean horrors as they struck out from distant planets and Great Old Ones who pushed Earthward against accursed terrors beyond our comprehension.
    Yes we can.

    It was the call of cults who turned the land into a charnelhouse; immemorial madmen who reached for the hearts of children; a meddling fool who chose the Moon-Bog as our new frontier; and a Slumbering King who took us to the Mountains of Madness and fhtagn.

    Yes we can to daemoniac chaos. Yes we can to tribulation and calamity. Yes we can sink this nation into fire beneath a gibbous. Yes we can crack open this world and stare into the yawning abyss. Yes we can.

    1. Prufrock’s Barackthulhu for the win. That is epic.

      However, I refuse to accept that Lovecraft only used “eldritch” 23 times. He had a fetish for that word.

  5. Something is quite amusing about the parallels between HP’s xenophobia and racism that was represented in that story (and it’s inherent distrust for miscegenation) and that of the Current day Tea party.

    I’m not sure if your intentionally pointing it out or just a racist thinking he’s being clever.

  6. I too have done some processing on the text of the complete works of Lovecraft. A markov model (generated by the dadadodo program) is here: http://namcub.accela-labs.com/stories/lovecraft-full.txt.dodo

    If you have dadadodo, just do:
    dadadodo -l lovecraft-full.txt.dodo -c n
    where n is the number of lines you want the story to be. Voila! Instant Lovecraft writing (though sans any coherent narrative, obviously).

  7. I’ve wanted this wordcount for ages. Thanks so much for doing the legwork!

    But having checked these comments and those on the original site, I’m astonished: no mention whatsoever of “ichor”??

    I understand people’s surprise at the dearth of squamous and batrachian citations, but really… how many times is ichor mentioned?

    That’s always been my Lovecraftian cuppa. (slurp)

  8. I’m a bit surprised no-one suggested “crepuscular”. I’m pretty sure I learnt that word from HPL.

    Hmmm, I’d try “gambrel” also.

  9. Can anyone confirm how many of the 47 uses of “Cyclopean” are in conjunction with the word “vaulting”?

  10. I’m still slightly shocked that a writer who died before I was even born has made pet words of so many of the descriptors in my head for bankers and Wall Street types!

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