Word for Wednesday: Zombie

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for October is Halloween.

The word Halloween likely dates to the seventeenth century but was popularised in the Burns poem ‘Halloween’ which was written in 1785. It is a Scottish abbreviation of ‘Allhallow-even’ which means ‘Eve of the All Saints’.  ‘Hallow’ means ‘holy person’ or ‘saint’. 

So far, we’ve looked at the words witch and banshee. Today’s word of the week is zombie.

A zombie, a figure of Haitian folklore, is a dead body that has been reanimated by supernatural spirits or forces.

Today, the zombie exists in popular culture as a creature separate from its Haitian folkloric origins and based on the idea of a zombie depicted in the 1968 film ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (though the word is never used in the film), which in turn was inspired by the 1954 novel ‘I Am Legend’. In the 1990s, the zombie became a common character in video games.

The word comes from a Bantu language and was originally the name of a snake god. Zombie has been used in English since 1871 and possibly entered the language via Louisiana Creole.

19 Oct 2022
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