Written Rambles

The Scariest (Not-So-Scary) Words of All Time

If you’ve ever read Goosebumps or seen an advertisement for a cheesy haunted house, you know there is a collection of “scary” words meant to send shivers up your spine and put you in the mood for the most frightening day of the year. (I know what you’re thinking but I was talking about Halloween, not the last day of No Shave November.) For some of you, the coming of October means locking yourself indoors and starting your yearly pre-hibernation routine with a Sex and the City marathon and a bucket of ice cream but for others, it means candy corn, so-bad-it’s-good horror flicks, and an eerie atmosphere that can only be matched by the time you ran into one of your teachers at the mall. If you fall under the latter, I thereby grant you permission to use any of the following words in regular conversation to get everyone’s Halloween juices flowing, whether they want them to or not:

Let’s break this down. Why exactly is this word even scary to begin with? Because if an alien with only a basic knowledge of the English language came to Earth one day and heard “looming” in regular conversation, I suspect they’d imagine a loom. Think about it. Looming, as in one who is in the act of using a loom, as in “Martha was looming in the cellar when the kids came home from school.” That’s how we should be using it. Instead, we say phrases like, “The clouds were looming above the building,” which would materialize in the alien’s mind as so:

I think I saw this in my nightmare last night.

On second thought… animated cloud working a loom? Could this situation BE any more terrifying? (Said Chandler Bing over my shoulder.)

Maybe this is the childhood trauma talking but ever since I watched Pokémon in the dark and saw Gastly attack some guy in an alley, this word is synonomous with “completely frightening” in my mind.  (Wait…was that Pokémon? Maybe I’m thinking of America’s Most Wanted…anyways, not important.) Yes, I understand that he was just a ball of gas but he had fangs, which makes me think of Dracula, which makes me think of coffins, which makes me think of being trapped in a coffin which then makes me claustrophobic which causes me to freak out. So I have very legitimate reasons here.

Call it a Bostonian bias but I’ve always loved the word “wicked.” Its multi-purpose definition allows it to be used in a variety of situations. Don’t believe me? Please refer to the following list of real quotes from real people:

“That was totally wicked!” – neighbor kid in The Incredibles
“The wicked witch is dead!” – Dorothy from that movie
“I say, this is a wicked cool tophat.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Da Pats ah doin’ wicked good t’night, Tahm.” – Patriots fan at a Super Bowl party
“EdusnwlueriqxzWICKEDnvmcbwiqs.” – Batman, probably

Until two minutes ago, I thought a Hobgoblin was a hybrid between a Gremlin, a goblin and a Furby but after checking Google, I’m inclined to believe it is in fact this creature, which is ten times less terrifying than my original idea:

Besides his very apparent fashion blunder, this hobgoblin is really not that scary. As a rule, any creature who has an action figure made out of him does not fall under the category of “frightening.” You don’t see action figures of Jack the Ripper. It just doesn’t happen. More than anything, though, hobgoblin is an amusing insult that I give you permission to use sparingly.

Perhaps the only legitimately scary word on this list, blood-curdling literally means when ones blood separates into lumps, similar to sour milk. Nowadays, it means “causing terror or horror” as in, a blood-curdling scream rang out when Betsy discovered Kermit the Frog was actually a hand puppet. If neither of those images bring goosebumps to your arms, you might as well go marry a hobgoblin and call it a day.

So if you listened to my instructions from before, you should currently be discussing the “wicked ghastly hobgoblins that you saw looming above your neighbor’s house making bloodcurdling noises” or else all of my advice will have gone to waste. And if you don’t think you can handle such terms, I suggest you get back into your pajamas and turn on the next episode of Sex and the City. That ice cream isn’t going to eat itself.

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