Word of the Week Wednesday: gaslight


This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: gaslight.

Besides referring to a street lamp burning gas as fuel for producing light, it also means to drive someone insane subtly by causing them to question their own sanity.

This meaning comes from the 1944 film noir movie of the same name where Charles Boyer‘s character attempts to do this to Ingrid Bergman‘s character and the previous 1950 film and 1938 stage play.

While undeniably a nasty and vicious thing to try to do to someone else, I find the term for it quaintly Victorian.

I was first exposed to the word in this sense while running a role-playing game using the Ravenloft campaign setting (of Dungeons and Dragons), which is a dark, quasi-Victorian horror setting where they actually provided rules for characters doing this.

 

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About Dan Kingsepp, ACS, ALS
I'm starting this blog to share my thought on the use of the English language and my experiences as a Toastmaster.

One Response to Word of the Week Wednesday: gaslight

  1. mitch9 says:

    I was envisioning a tushie and a match but am glad to see I was wrong : ) The Ravenloft definition was new to me too! Very neat!!!

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