01 March 2010

Usage you can use: Banshees

Banshee: a female spirit of Irish legend which visits a family to announce the impending death of one of its members by screaming. Alternatively, the banshee shows up after the fact as a mourner.

Where's MY sequel, Disney?

Which is to say that "banshee" is not appropriately used as a proxy for some vague extremity. The following usages are ill-informed:

--Pushing out that baby hurt like a banshee.
--The dripping two-year-old ran down the hall naked as a banshee.
--The basement was darker than six feet up a banshee's bum.
--etc.

Someone desiring rhetorical employment for the term "banshee" is probably looking for the cliche "screaming like a banshee." But that's a cliche, so why use it? The banshee has lost nearly all rhetorical force between becoming a cliche in her own right and consequently being forced into other nonsensical tropes. Can she be revived in correctly applied metaphor? I believe so. In the right context, one of the following might be of use (please note, some uses are ironic):

--informative as a banshee (alternatively: sympathetic as a banshee)
--subtle as a banshee
--upbeat as a banshee
--Law-oriented as a banshee
--etc.

I'm not Irish, people, but let's get this right.

4 comments:

Gauntlets said...

Six feet up her bum? Wow. That's dark.

Reb. Mary said...

And when can we expect the first installment of you banshee bestsellers?

Gauntlets said...

That's IT! I've been wondering which respectable creature of yore could become the newest hero(ine) of pop YA-for-grownups fiction. Let us write banshee books, friends, and become ever so rich.

Rebekah said...

I'll get after it as soon as I get the attic all organized. lololololololol!!!