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.