"fiend": in anyone's active vocab?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Nov 9 01:06:52 UTC 2005

At 7:32 PM -0500 11/8/05, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
>Now that I've gotten done with the hard work of voting
>for Barry for Beep, I'd like to visit another NY topic:
>tabloid headlines.
>A news story that has been in the NY tabs for the last week
>concerns a man who dressed up as a firefighter, started a fire
>as a distraction, and sexually assaulted a woman. Both
>tabloids have used the word "fiend" in front-page descriptions
>the man; the N.Y. Post, for example, has had "HUNTED: Fire
>Fiend Stalked his Sex Victim", "Is This Fire Sex Fiend?", and
>"FIEND'S LAIR", while the N.Y. Daily News has had "Cops
>Zeroing in on Perv Fiend".
>I have to say, the word _fiend_ is not really in my active
>vocabulary. When I hear or see it, I get an image of a man
>twisting the ends of his moustaches--they are plural, and are
>spelled with -ou---while wearing an opera cape and cackling
>demonically. It's up there with "evildoer" as a pejorative I
>simply can't take seriously. This is not, of course, to
>minimize the horrific nature of the alleged attack, just to
>question the word used of the alleged attacker.
>I find _sex fiend_ more acceptable,

there's also the typically (but not exclusively) ironic or
self-conscious "dope fiend"


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