Mr. Wallace was an apparent suicide.”  HE was an apparent suicide?  He himself?  Not, “his DEATH was an apparent suicide”?  How weird.

(I loved the fact that David Foster Wallace named a character in The Broom of the System Judith. Judith Prietht. It’s an auditory joke used in a visual medium [sort of the anti-FOOB], and as such I didn’t get it until halfway through when I pronounced it in my head, and then I laughed and laughed and laughed.)

6 thoughts on “judith

  1. Suicide as a noun meaning the person who has committed the action is a well-established usage, and the New York Times is just the sort of publication to use that sense of the word.

  2. Yep. And you can call someone a patricide or an infanticide or a regicide if they kill a father or a baby or a queen (or other ruler), respectively. The “cide” part comes from the Latin word “caeda,” which meant, “killer,” or, more originally, “cutter” (a lapicaeda is a stone-cutter), which in turn came from the verb “caedere,” “to cut” or “to kill.”

    You can also tack “-cide” onto just about any word you want and have a new coinage. Believe it or not, “suicide” is a comparatively new word against several other types of killing things. Also sprach the OED. Amen.

    /raging geekery

  3. Since you mentioned it, I’ll also mention that I was given the moniker Judith Prietht in middle school. It’s deliciously apropos for a DFW character, and I think I could take even more delight that he caught on to the auditory joke were it not for, you know, that middle school maliciousness.

  4. To be fair, in my experience using suicide to mean the dead person rather than the action is generally done by the more literary publications, or publications with pretensions of being literary; although it’s a well-established usage as I said, I wouldn’t call it a common one.

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