It’s Not Squamous. The 10 Words H.P. Lovecraft Used Most Often

In December of 2010, I became frustrated when attempting to find a Nook-compatible eBook, free or otherwise, of the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft. Initially, I used a nearly-complete file from the Australian Project Gutenberg and turned it into a mildly useful but still incomplete and unstructured ebook. That wouldn’t do, so I did what any good librarian-in-training would—I took the time to create a proper complete works eBook and released it to the public.

In the process of creating the eBook, I realized I had the opportunity to discover Lovecraft’s most-used words.

If you’ve ever read him, a handful of words have probably jumped out at you again and again. Perhaps you considered whipping up a bingo card or a tally sheet. Some of the words I think of immediately when someone mentions Lovecraft’s vocabulary are “eldritch,” “squamous,” “cyclopean,” “indescribable,” “decadent,” “unnameable,” and “blasphemous.”

Oddly enough, “squamous” was only used once in an original work (“The Dunwich Horror”). I found it once in a collaboration, but it probably stuck with readers because Lovecraft is the sole author we’ve read who’s used it. The following are the ten words, or root words, which occur most often in Lovecraft’s original writings:

  • Hideous – 260
  • Faint (ed/ing) – 189
  • Nameless – 157
  • Antiqu (e/arian) – 128
  • Singular (ly) – 115
  • Madness – 115
  • Abnormal – 94
  • Blasphem (y/ous) – 92
  • Accursed – 76
  • Loath (ing/some) – 71

You can read more of the most-used words and word counts for places, tomes, and characters in my full post on Lovecraft’s favorite words.


Illustration by Brian Elig.

This post originally appeared on on March 1, 2011.

RuthX is a mild-mannered librarian by day who serves the dread lord Cthulhu after dark and hopes to work in VERY Special Collections at Miskatonic University’s library, once she gets them to admit it exists.


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