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patg7590's avatar

Is "seethingly" a word?

Asked by patg7590 (4608points) March 4th, 2009

“There is something so dangerous, so seethingly evil about people and ideologies…”

can anyone suggest a better word?
especially if its not a word

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28 Answers

Bri_L's avatar

I don’t find that it is a word.

augustlan's avatar

Waiting to see what Jeruba says…

Jeruba's avatar

It may well be, since it is formed by the standard rules for extending the language, but it is not appropriate in this context. It literally means “in a boiling way.”

What is it that you’re trying to say?

patg7590's avatar

I mean it as….it’s so evil, it makes me seethe. I can’t think of how to properly say it.

Jeruba's avatar

Well, you have two things going on here. One is the evil that you want to talk about. The other is the way it makes you feel. You can’t ascribe your feeling to the evil. So you’ll have to think about it more clearly and separate the ideas.

patg7590's avatar

what about grotesquely?
carries a similar meaning?

Jeruba's avatar

No. You can say that. You can describe the evil as grotesque. Grotesqueness can be an attribute of evil. The evil isn’t seething (boiling), but it could be grotesque if you mean that it is a misshapen and fantasic evil and not just some normal, conventional sort of evil.


Are you just looking for an intensifier? If so, you should always ask yourself why you need it (they’re all some variant of “very”). Your language can be strong without them. If you are trying to say more than that, pick the word that delivers your meaning; for example,

horrifyingly evil
profoundly evil
cancerously evil
irremediably evil
soullessly evil
unspeakably evil

essieness's avatar

Wow @Jeruba, you’re quite knowledgeable about grammar! Do you teach?

patg7590's avatar


I am going with….

“cancerously evil”

thanks Jeruba!

Jeruba's avatar

@essieness, not formally, although in my work it’s a kind of sideline. I am an editor by profession and a writer by avocation, and I am one of those people who actually read dictionaries, which I keep and love by the dozens.

essieness's avatar

@Jeruba That’s really neat. I have a friend who is my grammar police. I try to keep up, but sometimes I’m really just too lazy to use correct grammar ;)

augustlan's avatar

See, I knew Jeruba would have the answer(s)!

cak's avatar

I love reading what Jeruba has to say on these things!

Jeruba's avatar

@essieness, I love this stuff. And I would hate it if everybody were perfect with their grammar (although a little care is never misplaced). After all, my livelihood depends on other people’s mistakes.

Thanks, cheering section!

crisedwards's avatar

It is if you think it is. All of language is invented. Have a blast.

discover's avatar


Jack79's avatar

Ok, so bonus question:

what if pat wanted to describe the feeling and not the evil?
(as in, say, “soothingly”)

would it have to be an adjective or an adverb?
could something like “unsettlingly evil” stick?

And pat, do you perhaps mean that the evil is seething (verb, not adj)?

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

insidiously evil
pervasively evil

morphail's avatar

The OED has one cite

1887 Temple Bar Oct. 199 He explained to his seethingly angry friend.

Jeruba's avatar

@Jack79, he could do that. Right now the syntax and semantics of the adverb are such that the adverb modifies the evil thing by saying how or in what manner it is evil. (We need an adverb because “evil” is being used as an adjective.) The sentence is not about his feeling.

In order to speak about the effect it has on him while still applying to the evil thing, it would have to be turned around and reoriented so that the attribute of the evilness is expressed in terms of an effect on others. If it causes him to seethe, then it would have to mean something like “causing-to-seethe-ly” or “seethe-makingly.” We don’t have any such word. Remember that “seethe” is being used figuratively, with “boiling” being an analog for an emotion, but it has to work first on a literal level. What causes something to boil? Heat. So we’d need a word that means “heating to the boiling point,” and we don’t have such a word available to be turned into an adverb.

So what does express this kind of quality as an effect on others? Let’s start with the other end, with the emotion. Seething isn’t an emotion; it’s a metaphor for an emotion. What is the emotion? anger? fury? revulsion? loathing? Those would be the sources of your adverbs if you were adding the emotional component. You’d build it this way:

The evil of certain people and ideologies {infuriates | revolts | maddens} me.
[To pick one]
It has an infuriating effect on me.
They are infuriatingly evil.

If I were his editor, I would not let him say this. It adds no meaning, and it diminishes the effect of the statement by turning it into something subjective. It takes the focus off the subject and makes it about the speaker. But this is the way to structure the adverb so that it expresses a feeling attributed to the speaker and not to the thing he is talking about.

“Unsettlingly” would be analogous to that: it would say that the evil thing he is describing has an unsettling effect on him.

We do have to remember here that we are talking about evil, which is generally taken to be not a good thing, which harms and angers and unsettles (etc.) people and which by virtue of being evil usually does not need much added explanation. I would say that the writer has a bigger task to perform in justifying calling any people or ideology evil, and so he’s going to need to hold an objective stance if possible. (Or maybe all he does mean is that those unnamed people and their ideology make him seethe—that is their crime, and not being evil per se.)

In morphail’s OED example, “seethingly” is used to modify the person’s anger: the friend is angry or is showing anger in a seething way. This makes sense and is consistent with the meaning and metaphorical application of the word.

Jack79's avatar

gotcha, thanks for the explanation Jeruba :)

pathfinder's avatar

That is creativeness of modern language.If I can say that…....

Jeruba's avatar

The English language is infinitely extensible by its own rules, This is why not all “real” words are found in the dictionary. Unfortunately the stretchability of English is often abused.

cyn's avatar

i’ll give you a humongous credit
you’re reallly smart!

Meribast's avatar

Seethingly would be an adverb (a word that describes a verb: it tells us “how”). Seethe is a verb. Seethingly would describe an action as being angry: angrily or having the nature of steam/boiling over.

It’s a creative use of the language that is probably not very common, but most people would have a general idea of what you’re saying, although an odd usage.

Wopse's avatar


How about: “It makes my blood boil” – the metaphor refers – AFAICS – to the same process. “Seethe” is from Old English for “to boil”, whereas “boil” is from Latin.

SomeoneElse's avatar

’...seemingly evil’?

CPLogic's avatar

There is nothing wrong with the word “seethingly” although inappropriate in this case. That word more portrays an anger boiling up within someone, not an attribute of their being. Although I cannot see where you could be going with this sentence as evil people are not ideological, I suspect the word you are looking for would be inherently. Pervasively & insidiously (offered by Jack79) are also good choices. How you attach this to ideologies, I’d be interested in hearing.

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