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Definition: The action of icicles falling from a roof and crashing on the ground.

Pronunciation: STEER-eh-side


This word’s etymology is tricky, because it’s incredibly obscure. (Actually, this is the first I’ve heard of it. I literally just discovered the phrase in an old book, not last week.)

The most I’ve been able to research on the word “stiricide” is that it’s been nebulously agreed upon by those “in the know” that it’s possibly (most likely?) 17th Century Middle English. If anything– even if it’s yet another English adoption/adaptation –the current term has the “-icide” suffix. We know this suffix is translated from the Indo-European root “-dhegm” which from “-cidium” and “-cida” derive.

Why this word?

I saw the film adaptation of ‘The Lovely Bones’ a couple years ago, but only just finished reading the original book about a month or so ago.

The death of Susie’s murderer remained the same in both the book and the film, but when I was first watching the movie (and when it was the only version of the story I was familiar with), I was irritated by the random and indifferent way that the man died. A falling icicle? That’s it?

When I read the book, I became angry all over again when I came across the same scene. It just seemed so… wrong, that such an awful, ruined human being who did equally awful things to other human beings, and ruined so many lives, would meet his end in such a careless, quick way.

I’m a native of a climate where the idea of snow is a ludicrous pipedream, not to mention actual icicles, and aside from the pair of awful, forced Xmases spent in Chicago visiting my father’s eldest child (and one drunken New Years spent with my grandmother ad her best friend on a Missouri mountainside), I’ve only ever seen and felt snow three times in my life.

Maybe people who are indigenous to a place where expected annual weather changes actually happen might feel like Harvey’s death was poetic, or poignant.

But, personally, I would have rather liked to have read a description of Mr. Salmon beating George Harvey to death in the cornfield, instead of reading about an errant stiricide resulting in a serial killer’s demise.

How do you use the word stiricide in a sentence?

Example: “Some might think stiricide was an unsatisfactory ending for the villain, but icicles falling from eaves kills 100 people annually in Russia alone; so, technically, it’s not entirely such a far-fetched and lazy death.”


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Written by Veronica Jacobs

Veronica Jacobs is a fiction writer, blogger, academic editor, and sci-fi enthusiast. Currently working freelance (with a background in English Literature), she spends most of her time writing.


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