Friday, April 22, 2016

26+ Ways to Kill: S is for Scaphism or Shank

Welcome! Since I write culinary mysteries, “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” deals with food topics and with mysteries. This month I am sharing ways to kill people—in your mysteries, of course—and some tips on getting away with it! To avoid the pronoun problem, I’ll use heesh (he or she), shis (his or hers), and shim (him or her) throughout the entries. Tune in for murder and mayhem.

Some great S words popped up related to death, dying, or precipitating misery. There are also intriguing S words describing people in ghoulish ways.

A scelestic person is villainous, evil. This could certainly describe your character. Heesh might also be a subreption (a misrepresentation, or one falsely deduced). Certainly you could make your killer a sarcophagous (flesh-eating), saprophagous (decay-eating), sanguisugent (blood-sucking), and sanguivorous (blood-drinking) son of a gun!

As to methods of doing great harm or even death, I had several options.

In a certain plot line, sparagmos (ritualistic tearing apart of a person prior to rebirth or renewal) could work. In a cult, say. Believers might think this is their pathway to salvation. Sign over the family farm, and let themselves be killed for the greater good.

You could shellac your victim ala Goldfinger. Remember the stories of the woman who was covered with gold for the movie? The rumor was she died. Probably apocryphal, still . . . If all skin pores are closed, I think the body would decay underneath. Slow death. Unreliable. Still, it could be a part of your killing effort.

Sunstroke kills a bunch of people every year in Arizona. It’s most often visitors to the state who don’t realize the inexorability of the desert sun. You could have your killer and victim hiking and then stage events so the victim dies of (or appears to die of) sunstroke. Tricky, that one.

Likewise with sugillate (beat until black and blue). You would have to have your killer hit something vital in the beating, or death wouldn’t result. Another slow-death, and not a sure one at that, is sphacelate (to cause or affect with gangrene or mortification).

Some I rejected for this post were too similar to others we’ve done.

Suffocate is close to quackle and querk. Scauper (a semi-circle gouging chisel) is another form of foramination. Syntexis (liquefaction, melting) is like liquate I did earlier.

Skin alive and scission (cutting, splitting-notice the relationship to scissors) have also been introduced in various forms. And saturnism is just another name for lead poisoning. I found that lead poisoning has almost as many names as a character in a Russian novel!

So here I am at scaphism and shank.

I really can see the scene of a scaphitic murder. Scaphism is execution by deserting a honey-covered person in the sun. Walk away. The body is eaten alive by tens of thousands of insects, birds, and other critters. Gory! Graphic! Yuck. Think of the scenes you can write! Would you save your victim or let shim die?

Another kind of murder is in a prison-setting. Shank is both a noun and a verb. Noun shank is a prison-made sharp object for stabbing. Often a plastic toothbrush is filed to a point, but a shank can be crafted from other found objects. Or a shiv (straight razor) could be used to verb shank (stab) your victim. Prison scenes can be quite intense. Is it a “justified” shanking or a paid job?

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#Mystery writer, need killer ideas? S is for Scaphism or Shank . Lots of tips this month! #atozchallenge
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Looking for new, fresh ways to kill (in books of course)? Check out Scaphism or Shank on “Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary Time” at

Check out Sharon Arthur Moore’s culinary mystery, Mission Impastable  


  1. Replies
    1. Just wait! Lots more to come, Cathy! 26+ ways indeed!

  2. What a way to start my morning! LOL. So many gruesome ways to kill people. You mystery writers are scary.

    Susan Says