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Define 'Nefarious'

by Mea

Nefarious. I delight in the word. For me, it has always lived between the pages of a book, personified in that clever villain that’s always just out of sight, twisting the strings behind the scene in ways you can’t quite see. An enduring fan of Othello, Iago’s ruthless manipulation has always in my eyes encapsulated the word, ensnaring me, breathless, as he twists human nature to his will.

In a way, the word’s very definition is nefarious. Its subtleties elude the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines it as merely “wicked or criminal.” But nefarious is more gleeful than that. It is the chuckle as the last piece of the plan falls into place, the Umbridge-esque sadism that makes it personal in the time-tested saga of hero and villain. It shifts and slides under your tongue, the whisper of a cloak turning away. It is the shadow in the night, the prickle on the back of your neck that means someone is behind you just out of sight… and they’re coming for you.

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Points: 380
Reviews: 9

Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:01 pm
Aoifeee246 wrote a review...

Hello there,

Acknowledging that the other reviewers have identified this particular piece as an English assignment, I think it is a fantastic idea.
Can you imagine a whole book full of obscure and paradoxical words, and their definitions in this format with this much elaboration? I think it would be so interesting!
How you have described the word, and referenced the definition as "wicked or criminal" and then offered a contrasting opinion is great.
As an artist, I personally love work that stems from one sole source, be it art or literature.
Well done.

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71 Reviews

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Reviews: 71

Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:18 pm
ashtheawesome12401 wrote a review...

What a peculiar word to define.I love how you added your own personal definition to the word. I especially like the line "It shifts and slides under your tongue, the whisper of a cloak turning away.". I really like that line in particular because it appears to be like imagery. Is that the word, I believe so. Like Elizabeth said, it does come off as an English assignment. And that is perfectly alright. Writing can be anything really. Moving on, I did enjoy this. I love the language you used. Giving a formal but yet straight to the point answer. I would actually love to see more of these in the future. Thank you.

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42 Reviews

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Reviews: 42

Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:59 pm
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Vellichor says...

I will be back to review this in the next few days. @Mea this is hilarious timing, and I have to agree with your summation :D

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766 Reviews

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Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:48 pm
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Brigadier wrote a review...

Hey there Mea. It's just lizzy dropping by real quick, so without a further ado, let the reviewing begin.
On my morning rounds of the green room, I stumbled across your piece and decided to read it just in case. I haven't finished it completely yet but the use of 'Umbridge-esque sadism', made me take this fifteen minute break from my English essay.
Edit: Shoot. I started writing this like an hour ago and someone beat me to the second review. But your story really deserves two good review so I might as well stick around.

First Thought:
1. This sounds like an English prompt or exercise. That's just the first association that I make with this style of writing it and the title. I think it's that you're trying to define nefarious by showing the examples of it and then writing it into an entirely different example. That doesn't make much sense when I write it out but I think I know how it is all wrapped up.
2. The first sentence and the third sentence really grab my attention and make me want to know which stories you were going to use. Because as soon as I read that line, I knew that at least one or two villains were going to be brought up. The second sentence sounds a bit weaker than the other two but for it to make sense it has to be there.
Do you know what I mean? Like talking about it alone, it doesn't look great there. But if you use say the first three lines acting together as the hook, it looks great.
3. I may or may not have had to look up Othello. (I'm sorry if my lack of knowledge on Shakespeare offends all of his fans.) Which is part of the reason I'm returning an hour later to write this review. So once I did in fact know the reference you were making, the line drew me in. I mean really your whole first paragraph makes the reader want to go further only to find out there's only one other paragraph.
4. *tosses notes on length out the window* Yeah for once I actually like a piece of short fiction. You have been spared from my really long speech on dragging out stuff too much in flash fiction.
Moving on.

Lights, Cameras, Opinions!
1. If you haven't noticed yet, the whole review is just going to be thoughts and opinions, and most likely no actual quoting of your story. There's not really that much to complain about but you know nice reviews are just as nice as super critical ones. Yay! I'm glad there is absolutely nothing to say about grammar/spelling because I absolutely hate doing that section. They say not to judge a piece by it's spelling mistakes but I have fallen into that pit of judging.
2. The ending is very interesting. It makes me think of a grander scheme or plot, something like an evil villain explaining nefarious. Like he's just casually walking around the dinner table explaining about nefarious people and no one wants to eat their soup because they are so afraid. Alright back on track but that's just the image that comes to my mind.
3. It would have been interesting to hear a few more comparisons of the evil, sorry nefarious, characters that have riddled good literature. I figured by the length you wouldn't be making more than one or two references but I still think it could have been extended a bit. I understand you did this for length, for a quick shot at the definition of nefarious but it really just seems like the end comes a bit fast. Everything is a bit rushed, which I admit is common in short works, but it just zooms by a bit too fast.
^ Does any of that make sense? I think I got the point across but if I didn't, just message me.

Huh. Well I guess that's really all the thoughts I had for today. Hopefully some piece of something in this whole pile of madness is useful to you.
Have a nice day.
The Queen of the Book Clubs

Mea says...

Thanks very much! Yeah, this was an English assignment. And yes, your points make sense!

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383 Reviews

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Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:24 pm
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Sujana wrote a review...

Strange. Lovely. Interesting.

There are a lot of words that I quite like. Some words that I don't. The internet makes a big matter of picking weird words and facts to put into the spotlight; suddenly, saying 'moist' is now punishable by death and 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious' is the best word in the dictionary (yes, I wrote that within one try--yes, I'm very proud of that). So I'm not surprised someone's finally singing praise about 'nefarious'. Perhaps its the culture we're living in, but I feel like the word is just inherently...striking, in some way. That's the fun part of words. Is it the culture that you're brought up in that makes a subconscious negative reaction towards some words, or is it just human nature to feel threatened by certain sounds? I'm leaning more towards the former, but it's still uncanny how certain bad words in my language have similar traits to certain bad words in English. For example: "Narkoba" means drug in Indonesian, and not the good kind, either. "Nakal" is naughty in Indonesian. "Naga" is dragon. I wouldn't say the letter 'n' is inherently evil, but I always find it interesting to see similarities in certain languages. It makes the world feel connected, and reminds me that people are still people and humans will always be humans, no matter how divided our languages, or cultures, or beliefs are.

I just filled up half my review with some thoughts, mostly because it's hard to review your work. Someone once told me if you want perfection, write something less than 500 words long, and for the most part I think that's true. Anything less than 500 words is very manageable, and you've proven that. This essay is informative, somewhat personal, and an interesting read, though I think you could've improved on several regards.

-Your tone was very consistent and chilling, though I feel like it could've been more descriptive about why the word 'nefarious' specifically is so...well, nefarious. Comparing it to other bad words might help, actually. In fact, comparing it to 'bad' is actually a good idea. I mean, 'bad' doesn't sound bad does it? Nefarious on the other hand! That sounds like someone's plotting murder over the skull of a dead jester or something. Something in the high ne and the low fa and the sharp rious brings to mind a cackle in the night or a corrupt politicians' smile or a wine glass filled with something red but not necessarily wine being drunk in sips. You could definitely describe it better than me.

-While that last part was interesting, I don't know how it would relate to the entire essay, as the essay mostly focused on the strange but fitting meaning of the word 'nefarious'. You never really brought up the 'someone' whose coming for me, and so I'm not really scared. If it was a little more general, as in 'something is coming after you because something is always coming after you this is the real world literally everything could kill you', I think that'd be much scarier. But that's my opinion.

-The comparation with Iago was great, but it sort of left me begging for more examples, because there are so many and I honestly don't think Iago represents all of them (because all of them are too unique and too intelligent to even be missed out). At the very least, mention Moriarty or Montresor or even Hamlet, if you like the anti-hero bit. Really, there's at least one admirable mastermind in all of Shakespeare's plays, so why does Iago get all of the limelight?

As far as it goes, that's all I have to say. Sorry it's short, unfortunately I didn't have much to work with considering this was quite a decent work.



Mea says...

Ooh, this was really helpful. The part I liked least about this honestly was my ending, and I particularly like the idea of comparing 'bad' to 'nefarious' - because yeah, bad doesn't sound evil at all. (And Iago get's all the limelight because he's my favorite and I know Othello the best. But you're right, I could totally add others in.)


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Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:04 pm
Mathy wrote a review...

I loved your choice of words in this essay! Is this for school? It definitely feels like you are getting peers to proofread a high school essay. :3 I like how you defined the word, and I really think that there is not more you could actually do to make this better, but you could also make it have a bit of a more creative definition of the word.

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