H.P. Lovecraft's favorite words
In reading the works of HP Lovecraft, you find an author who revisits the same words over and over, sometimes to excess.  Or maybe he's just trying to tell us something.


Even though it sometimes feels like we are experiencing the limitations of his talent (or at least his vocabulary), I think those over-used words are part of Lovecraft's literary fingerprint.  Just as the atmosphere conveyed in his stories is part of his style, the words he returned to multiple times (especially in the same stories) define how he created that atmosphere.  The most frequently-used nouns are the props and settings.  The most frequently-used adjectives are how he lights each scene.

The following is a selected listing of not all, but many of the stand-out words that characterize Lovecraft's writing, all organized around emerging themes described by each cluster of words.  The number in front of each word in the following listings is the count of appearances in the author's works.  The number in parentheses is in ranking in order of use (i.e., "(1)" is the most frequently-used word), just to give these entries a frame of reference beyond simply the number of times they appear.

Caveats:

The counts were taken from a total of 614,476 words.  His top 100 most-frequently used words are listed near the bottom of this page.  I concede that the frequency of many of these words are artificially inflated by the presence of words used for other meanings (e.g., "volume" may refer either to a book or to the space taken up by an object), but that can't be avoided without a labor-intensive study of each use of the word, and frankly, I didn't have time for that.

Totals: Taken together, the Top 100 most frequently-used words comprise 306,770 words or 49.924% of the total usage.  The words cited below (in addition to the Top 100) comprised 63,570 usages or 10.345% of the total.  Indeed, five words cited below among the themes ("old," "seemed," "man," "light," and "strange") are in Lovecraft's Top 100.

Emergent themes...


ADJECTIVES

Weirdness - This author of "weird tales" was constantly employing adjectives to convey the peculiarity of his protagonists' discoveries, as well as their revulsion at what they encountered.  This grouping collectively stood out at me on reading Lovecraft's work, and they are what originally prompted this examination of themes through his word choices.  Additionally, many related terms appear in the "Fear" section below.

635    strange    (99)
364   horror   (175)
341   unknown   (181)
330   terrible   (187)
302   curious   (201)
286   hideous   (216)
209   queer   (294)
189   horrible   (322)
189   odd   (325)
186   nameless   (331)
164   vague   (374)
138   terror   (442)
119   alien   (499)
102   grotesque   (586)
98   horrors   (610)
97   fantastic   (619)
94   weird   (649)
90   oddly   (684)
84   vaguely   (755)
83   forbidden   (763)
81   awful   (783)
80   morbid   (801)
80   nervous   (802)
79   haunted   (816)
75   chaos   (867)
75   obscure   (870)
74   abnormal   (879)
74   disturbed   (883)
69   strangely   (961)
68   cyclopean   (962)
67   bizarre   (973)
56   ghastly   (1182)
55   disturbing   (1192)
52   hideously   (1279)
50   uncanny   (1326)
49   horribly   (1335)
49   unusual   (1350)
48   twisted   (1382)
48   unnatural   (1383)
44   marvellous   (1493)
39   queerly   (1680)
37   strangeness   (1767)
36   shapeless   (1812)
31   awe   (2040)
29   noxious   (2210)
29   unfamiliar   (2237)
27   backward   (2325)
27   foreign   (2346)
26   marvels   (2454)
26   unbelievable   (2498)
25   baffled   (2509)
25   bewildered   (2513)
25   formless   (2538)
25   grim   (2544)
25   haunting   (2545)
25   indescribable   (2550)
25   unpleasant   (2594)
24   disquieting   (2634)
24   eldritch   (2637)
24   maddening   (2660)
24   terrific   (2698)
22   gruesome   (2893)
22   inhuman   (2902)
22   repulsive   (2937)
22   unearthly   (2963)
22   waxen   (2970)
21   abnormality   (2973)
21   absurd   (2974)
21   amorphous   (2977)
21   astonished   (2981)
21   grotesquely   (3017)
20   abhorrent   (3091)
20   awed   (3095)
20   nauseous   (3171)
20   unnamable   (3228)
Total   Percent of words used
6246   1.01654%


Colors - While colors are a generic enough set of adjectives, it is interesting to pull them aside for their own analysis and see just what their distribution says about Lovecraft's focus.  A few somewhat-related words are included as well even though they most likely were not used to describe color in all cases.

540   black   (118) (see also the section about light and dark below))
416   stone   (157)
213   white   (286)
153   green   (391)
153   grey   (392)
116   red   (513)
106   yellow   (562)
93   golden   (657)
83   blue   (757)
80   gold   (799)
79   brown   (809)
59   onyx   (1115)
54   gray   (1224)
52   silver   (1288)
43   greenish   (1521)
25   purple   (2572)
22   olive   (2921)
21   yellowish   (3089)
20   bronze   (3099)
6   orange   (<20)
3   copper   (<20)
Total   Percent of words used
2337   0.380%


Scale - As an author of "cosmic horror," the scale of things described in Lovecraft's tales is often huge, whether we're talking about monsters or hidden cities or the universe itself.

545   beyond   (117)
480   world   (134)
434   earth   (152)
264   space   (229)
251   vast   (243)
228   monstrous   (272)
146   stars   (409)
94   ultimate   (647)
93   cosmic   (653)
86   planet   (729)
84   huge   (747)
82   incredible   (775)
69   gigantic   (953)
58   universe   (1142)
57   realm   (1161)
53   worlds   (1268)
52   infinitely   (1280)
51   prodigious   (1305)
48   big   (1356)
47   dimensions   (1397)
46   extreme   (1428)
46   infinite   (1432)
42   enormous   (1551)
38   cosmos   (1696)
37   larger   (1750)
37   tremendous   (1769)
36   awesome   (1779)
36   powerful   (1805)
35   infinity   (1834)
34   echoes   (1886)
34   stupendous   (1913)
33   giant   (1938)
33   massive   (1945)
33   realms   (1955)
30   titanic   (2164)
29   immense   (2202)
29   utmost   (2241)
27   planets   (2366)
26   dimensional   (2414)
26   limitless   (2451)
24   profoundly   (2675)
22   heavens   (2895)
21   proportions   (3052)
21   universal   (3081)
20   echoed   (3130)
20   monstrosities   (3170)
20   vastly   (3229)
Total   Percent of words used
4057   0.660%


INQUISITIVENESS

Academia - Lovecraft's heroes were less Indiana Jones and more the original Van Helsing.  They approached their encounters with other-worldly horrors less as gun-wielding adventurers and more as academics.  These stories involve frequent visits to libraries, consultations on university campuses, and expert opinions from doctors.  I resisted the temptation to subdivide this section since these words reflect over-lapping domains.

171   tales   (359)
151   doctor   (395)
134   books   (451)
121   library   (486)
119   reason   (502)
118   knowledge   (506)
109   consciousness   (543)
100   letter   (601)
99   record   (607)
98   curiously   (609)
97   cases   (617)
92   specimens   (669)
91   letters   (676)
91   museum   (678)
85   papers   (737)
84   fragments   (746)
84   laboratory   (748)
84   scientific   (752)
83   college   (760)
82   published   (778)
77   curiosity   (844)
65   discovered   (1002)
65   language   (1007)
64   discovery   (1019)
59   science   (1120)
57   studies   (1168)
56   professor   (1185)
55   records   (1207)
54   university   (1243)
53   evidence   (1251)
52   specimen   (1291)
51   mummy   (1301)
49   medical   (1338)
44   diary   (1484)
43   physician   (1534)
40   facts   (1623)
38   hieroglyphs   (1711)
38   instruments   (1713)
38   manuscript   (1718)
35   formulae   (1829)
34   experiments   (1888)
33   volume   (1973)
32   explanation   (1988)
32   hospital   (1999)
32   symbols   (2022)
32   theory   (2023)
31   formula   (2060)
28   symbol   (2306)
28   theories   (2307)
27   apparatus   (2320)
27   venerable   (2388)
26   handwriting   (2433)
26   ignorance   (2439)
26   ignorant   (2440)
26   investigation   (2446)
26   scholar   (2476)
26   speculations   (2483)
25   conjecture   (2523)
25   doctors   (2527)
25   manuscripts   (2556)
25   research   (2576)
23   correspondence   (2731)
23   researches   (2803)
22   poet   (2929)
22   poetry   (2930)
21   experiment   (3008)
21   explanations   (3009)
21   physicians   (3042)
21   professors   (3051)
21   volumes   (3082)
20   inquiries   (3153)
Total   Percent of words used
3933   0.640%


Exploration - Although some tales find horrors visited upon characters in their own homes (or at least home towns), many stories have the protagonists venturing into distant lands or even subterranean caverns that were not previously known in their lifetime.

108   party   (553)
93   camp   (651)
81   torch   (793)
77   cave   (842)
66   quest   (998)
63   encountered   (1044)
62   search   (1067)
59   carvings   (1101)
54   seek   (1236)
45   cavern   (1450)
44   tracks   (1507)
42   trail   (1570)
41   seeking   (1601)
39   expedition   (1665)
38   flashlight   (1707)
35   tunnel   (1864)
32   torches   (2027)
31   phosphorescent   (2074)
29   phosphorescence   (2213)
28   footprints   (2265)
28   lantern   (2274)
25   caves   (2519)
24   caverns   (2614)
24   subterranean   (2691)
24   vaults   (2706)
23   tunnels   (2819)
21   explore   (3010)
20   subterrene   (3215)
20   yak   (3237)
Total   Percent of words used
1276   0.208%


Mystery - Lovecraft's stories are filled with mysteries to solve, and that is reflected in the frequency with which he uses words relating to cryptic or secreted discoveries.

130   secret   (462)
121   hidden   (485)
101   secrets   (595)
96   trace   (633)
94   vanished   (648)
85   mystery   (736)
53   disappeared   (1249)
51   furtive   (1298)
51   missing   (1300)
51   suggested   (1309)
50   questions   (1320)
49   suspected   (1347)
48   mysterious   (1374)
44   inexplicable   (1488)
43   cryptic   (1517)
43   shadowy   (1537)
40   rumours   (1641)
39   mysteries   (1674)
37   baffling   (1735)
34   cryptical   (1881)
33   puzzled   (1954)
25   suspicion   (2590)
24   elusive   (2638)
23   concealed   (2727)
23   secrecy   (2807)
20   conjectures   (3111)
20   secretly   (3203)
Total   Percent of words used
1428   0.232%


THE NATURAL WORLD

Nature - Many of these tales are set outside urban environments, and there is abundant interaction with the natural world in the course of the stories.

241   land   (253)
229   hill   (269)
210   sky   (292)
210   wind   (293)
166   hills   (369)
145   river   (416)
142   rock   (430)
142   sun   (431)
141   lake   (434)
140   trees   (439)
121   mountain   (487)
115   mountains   (518)
94   wood   (650)
92   valley   (670)
85   metal   (735)
84   country   (743)
84   desert   (744)
81   ice   (790)
79   island   (817)
75   snow   (876)
64   woods   (1037)
60   crystal   (1089)
60   field   (1091)
60   plateau   (1094)
59   grass   (1109)
59   mist   (1112)
59   mud   (1113)
56   forest   (1181)
54   antarctic   (1212)
54   cliffs   (1218)
48   cliff   (1360)
47   rocks   (1411)
41   wooden   (1605)
40   mists   (1633)
39   vegetation   (1687)
33   hillside   (1939)
32   birch   (1977)
32   granite   (1996)
32   landscape   (2004)
32   lightning   (2006)
32   soil   (2018)
30   foothills   (2122)
28   countryside   (2257)
28   swamp   (2305)
28   weeds   (2315)
26   fungi   (2425)
22   jungle   (2903)
21   limestone   (3027)
20   lava   (3161)
Total   Percent of words used
3872   0.630%


The nautical realm - There are quite a few stories (or at least scenes within) set in or near the water, including in what is perhaps Lovecraft's most-famous tale: "The Call of Cthulu."

348   sea   (179)
200   water   (310)
104   ship   (572)
88   ocean   (702)
67   waters   (985)
60   capt   (1085)
44   captain   (1481)
42   sailors   (1566)
37   ships   (1764)
36   wharves   (1817)
31   sailed   (2082)
30   boat   (2104)
23   waterfront   (2831)
21   voyage   (3083)
20   leagues   (3162)
20   sail   (3198)
Total   Percent of words used
1171   0.191%


The biological realm - This deserves its own sub-categories, but it is hard to tease apart references to men, animals, plants, fungi, and Lovecraft's strange creatures who possibly fall into more than one of the above.

921   man   (74)
405   human   (161)
245   head   (248)
143   race   (427)
140   dogs   (437)
127   cats   (467)
123   blood   (474)
116   brain   (509)
104   cat   (566)
103   dog   (575)
100   presence   (602)
91   creatures   (674)
79   mankind   (818)
78   woman   (839)
77   animal   (840)
65   creature   (1001)
64   entity   (1022)
58   heart   (1131)
56   fish   (1180)
54   wings   (1245)
50   rats   (1321)
47   entities   (1399)
42   beast   (1543)
41   monster   (1590)
40   birds   (1609)
40   organic   (1637)
36   flesh   (1791)
36   winged   (1818)
35   organs   (1843)
32   bird   (1978)
31   paws   (2072)
31   species   (2092)
30   claws   (2109)
29   rat   (2216)
29   slimy   (2224)
29   tentacles   (2231)
26   beasts   (2403)
25   snake   (2582)
23   brains   (2726)
23   teeth   (2817)
23   vegetable   (2825)
22   goat   (2890)
22   monsters   (2911)
22   moonbeasts   (2912)
22   spawn   (2951)
21   barking   (2983)
20   fishy   (3140)
Total   Percent of words used
3976   0.647%


MAN-MADE SETTINGS

Architecture - Buildings are often described in tremendous detail in these stories.  Settings were incredibly important in establishing the atmosphere.

274   floor   (224)
256   walls   (239)
116   building   (510)
108   grave   (552)
108   temple   (555)
97   stones   (626)
89   tower   (695)
88   cellar   (697)
81   towers   (794)
80   crumbling   (797)
79   passage   (819)
76   tomb   (859)
75   masonry   (868)
74   carved   (881)
69   brick   (949)
68   marble   (966)
63   buildings   (1039)
55   structure   (1209)
51   sculptures   (1306)
48   castle   (1359)
48   columns   (1361)
48   vault   (1384)
45   corridors   (1451)
45   cylinder   (1452)
43   pillars   (1535)
42   temples   (1569)
38   crypt   (1699)
37   stony   (1766)
34   slab   (1909)
33   mansion   (1944)
33   sphinx   (1964)
33   throne   (1967)
32   cemetery   (1980)
32   spheres   (2021)
31   arched   (2037)
30   edifice   (2118)
30   passages   (2143)
30   pyramid   (2151)
30   spires   (2161)
29   ceiling   (2178)
29   chambers   (2179)
29   graves   (2197)
27   statues   (2382)
26   sphere   (2484)
25   alley   (2504)
25   arch   (2506)
24   fireplace   (2643)
23   ladder   (2780)
22   courtyard   (2869)
22   diameter   (2875)
22   graveyard   (2891)
22   labyrinth   (2904)
22   pillar   (2927)
22   sculptor   (2944)
22   sculptured   (2945)
21   cubes   (2994)
21   monoliths   (3032)
21   prison   (3050)
21   pyramids   (3053)
20   chiselled   (3103)
20   dome   (3127)
20   labyrinths   (3159)
Total   Percent of words used
3184   0.518%


House - This is merely a sub-category of the above pulled out for easier reading.

550   house   (114)
445   room   (146)
441   door   (149)
206   home   (296)
204   wall   (301)
198   windows   (314)
188   window   (328)
87   attic   (708)
82   roof   (780)
72   roofs   (915)
69   stairs   (960)
58   rooms   (1138)
57   doorway   (1152)
53   doors   (1250)
38   upstairs   (1729)
35   staircase   (1858)
31   bungalow   (2043)
28   cabin   (2254)
28   chimney   (2256)
25   doorways   (2528)
23   abode   (2714)
22   dwelling   (2878)
20   downstairs   (3128)
Total   Percent of words used
2960   0.482%


Town - Same here.

417   city   (156)
311   people   (196)
307   street   (200)
230   town   (266)
110   village   (540)
96   folk   (630)
65   folks   (1006)
53   farmhouse   (1252)
46   native   (1436)
45   army   (1449)
25   villagers   (2595)
24   colonial   (2619)
24   denizens   (2627)
23   horde   (2767)
22   merchant   (2909)
22   throng   (2961)
22   villages   (2967)
20   churchyard   (3104)
Total   Percent of words used
1862   0.303%


SENSES

Strangely, there are few references to taste or touch, but sights, sounds, and smells play significant roles in Lovecraft's work.

Sight - Since these stories are often about detection, it isn't especially surprising how often vision comes into play.  Lovecraft is also a very visual writer, conveying a lot of information about the sights provided, especially about some very memorable monsters.

1020   seemed   (61)
557   see   (111)
398   eyes   (164)
248   sight   (245)
112   seem   (529)
97   image   (621)
89   eye   (691)
79   seems   (822)
77   beheld   (841)
76   unseen   (860)
76   watch   (861)
76   watched   (862)
68   glimpsed   (965)
63   glimpse   (1045)
59   eyed   (1106)
59   glance   (1108)
58   vision   (1143)
57   seeing   (1163)
50   staring   (1324)
47   watching   (1416)
44   observed   (1495)
41   invisible   (1588)
37   illusion   (1746)
36   seemingly   (1811)
32   glimpses   (1994)
28   examined   (2263)
25   perspective   (2563)
23   watchers   (2830)
Total   Percent of words used
3632   0.591%


Sound - This sense factors in as well, and the words below paint a clear picture of just how sound was used to establish atmosphere.

488   heard   (131)
284   sound   (218)
231   voice   (263)
154   spoke   (389)
137   sounds   (445)
130   hear   (460)
120   speak   (497)
109   silent   (545)
102   speech   (587)
90   whispered   (689)
88   silence   (705)
84   utter   (754)
79   ears   (812)
54   listened   (1231)
53   choked   (1248)
48   whispers   (1388)
47   whisper   (1417)
45   music   (1463)
45   noise   (1465)
44   hearing   (1487)
44   noises   (1494)
43   listen   (1527)
40   listening   (1630)
38   silently   (1726)
36   muffled   (1799)
35   noisome   (1841)
33   aloud   (1926)
32   sounded   (2020)
31   speaking   (2091)
29   uttered   (2242)
28   whispering   (2316)
27   rattling   (2372)
27   songs   (2381)
26   loud   (2453)
24   louder   (2658)
22   musical   (2916)
22   muttering   (2918)
Total   Percent of words used
2969   0.483%


Smells - Olfaction comes into play as well, although more incidentally than the above.  Note that the word "sweet" only appears thirteen times, showing how much more relevant a word like, say, "stench" is to the themes in his work.

73   odour   (900)
57   stench   (1166)
47   smell   (1414)
34   odor   (1900)
23   fragrant   (2752)
22   musty   (2917)
22   odours   (2920)
20   scent   (3200)
Total   Percent of words used
298   0.0485%


THE DARK SIDE

Insanity - Quite a few characters are pushed to (or over) the brink of madness in Lovecraft's works.  It's no surprise to see that reflected in the frequency of usage of the following words.

187   mad   (330)
126   madness   (470)
98   mental   (611)
57   sane   (1162)
47   insane   (1405)
45   sanity   (1472)
34   crazy   (1879)
31   psychological   (2078)
29   feverish   (2193)
28   madman   (2278)
25   delirium   (2524)
21   madly   (3029)
20   delusion   (3119)
Total   Percent of words used
748   0.122%


Creepers - There are a lot of references to things just below the surface of perception, so to speak.

74   dwelt   (884)
46   crawling   (1423)
36   crawled   (1786)
36   crept   (1787)
31   lurked   (2069)
30   lurking   (2136)
27   dwell   (2342)
23   creeping   (2732)
Total   Percent of words used
303   0.049%


Isolation - Another sub-theme that goes along with the persistent theme of fear.

228   alone   (271)
177   lost   (350)
93   deserted   (654)
68   empty   (964)
57   lonely   (1157)
54   shunned   (1238)
45   vacant   (1478)
44   abandoned   (1479)
44   lone   (1491)
24   desolation   (2629)
20   desolate   (3121)
20   solitary   (3208)
Total   Percent of words used
874   0.142%


Death - Well, naturally.

261   dead   (235)
232   death   (261)
168   living   (366)
111   alive   (530)
111   died   (531)
94   bodies   (639)
60   corpse   (1087)
57   bones   (1149)
54   decay   (1221)
53   killed   (1253)
46   remains   (1440)
43   kill   (1526)
41   victim   (1603)
39   die   (1662)
39   dying   (1664)
38   mortal   (1719)
37   coffin   (1737)
36   rotting   (1809)
33   skull   (1962)
33   survived   (1966)
28   skeleton   (2297)
28   victims   (2314)
26   surviving   (2492)
22   perished   (2925)
20   deaths   (3118)
20   tragedy   (3225)
Total   Percent of words used
1730   0.282%


From the depths - This is a running theme throughout, depending on the nature of the threat, but this goes along with the frequent references to caves/caverns in Lovecraft's stories.

205   deep   (298)
194   beneath   (318)
158   distant   (378)
124   abyss   (473)
66   depths   (987)
66   endless   (989)
57   abysses   (1145)
50   void   (1327)
49   descent   (1330)
48   deeper   (1362)
48   deeply   (1363)
45   descended   (1453)
43   underground   (1540)
33   hole   (1940)
22   descend   (2872)
22   descending   (2873)
22   dug   (2877)
22   pits   (2928)
Total   Percent of words used
1274   0.207%


Dreams - I hadn't realized this was such a prevalent theme in these works, but look at these numbers!

295   dreams   (210)
233   dream   (260)
64   visions   (1034)
60   dreamed   (1090)
43   dreaming   (1518)
31   dreamer   (2052)
30   dreamland   (2117)
Total   Percent of words used
756   0.123%


Evil - A given, of course.

185   evil   (334)
146   darkness   ((408) (this is also filed in the "Darkness and Light" section))
134   sinister   (452)
114   ghouls   (521)
104   nightmare   (571)
95   hellish   (634)
89   blackness   (690)
86   accursed   (720)
85   bad   (732)
70   devil   (927)
69   afraid   (946)
44   curse   (1483)
43   loathsome   (1528)
40   warning   (1650)
39   cursed   (1659)
39   daemon   (1660)
39   hell   (1668)
38   ghoulish   (1710)
38   ominous   (1721)
37   ghoul   (1744)
33   damnable   (1931)
33   unholy   (1971)
32   hateful   (1998)
30   dismal   (2115)
29   decadent   (2186)
29   fury   (2195)
29   unwholesome   (2238)
27   damnably   (2336)
27   fiendish   (2345)
27   savage   (2374)
26   insidious   (2445)
25   demoniac   (2525)
24   hate   (2649)
24   oblivion   (2665)
23   damn   (2735)
23   detestable   (2738)
23   loathing   (2786)
22   daemoniac   (2870)
22   darkly   (2871)
22   enemy   (2879)
22   menacing   (2908)
22   unhallowed   (2964)
Total   Percent of words used
2108   0.343%


Fear - This is central to any horror story, obviously.  It is interesting to see how often the author used variations on this primal emotion.

302   fear   (202)
168   frightful   (365)
92   fright   (663)
87   frantic   (711)
86   escape   (722)
86   frightened   (724)
84   feared   (745)
79   shocking   (823)
72   dread   (907)
65   fears   (1005)
64   dreaded   (1020)
60   scream   (1097)
58   shock   (1140)
57   panic   (1158)
53   screamed   (1262)
53   shuddered   (1264)
45   loomed   (1461)
45   nerves   (1464)
44   anxious   (1480)
44   screaming   (1503)
44   shook   (1505)
43   cries   (1516)
40   escaped   (1620)
35   doom   (1825)
33   frantically   (1936)
33   shivered   (1960)
33   shudder   (1961)
33   trembled   (1968)
33   trembling   (1969)
32   fled   (1992)
31   dangerous   (2049)
31   despair   (2050)
31   shrieked   (2087)
29   terrors   (2232)
29   troubled   (2235)
29   unexpected   (2236)
28   alarm   (2249)
27   screams   (2375)
27   shriek   (2380)
25   fearsome   (2535)
23   fearful   (2745)
23   nervously   (2791)
21   startling   (3067)
20   shocked   (3204)
Total   Percent of words used
2377   0.387%


Darkness and Light - Many of these are used literally, but there is a figurative element as well.

726   night   (89)
459   dark   (141)
439   light   (151)
426   day   (154)
244   moon   (249)
146   darkness   (408)
102   twilight   (591)
100   dim   (598)
96   shadow   (632)
82   lights   (777)
75   shadows   (874)
72   dawn   (906)
70   sunset   (944)
62   moonlight   (1062)
59   midnight   (1110)
55   flame   (1199)
52   shining   (1287)
44   lighted   (1489)
39   nocturnal   (1677)
38   dusk   (1701)
38   luminous   (1717)
38   shone   (1725)
37   daylight   (1738)
37   rays   (1761)
33   nights   (1951)
26   nighted   (2455)
25   sunlight   (2589)
23   radiance   (2800)
22   moonlit   (2913)
20   lighting   (3163)
Total   Percent of words used
3685   0.600%


ANCIENT SUPERSTITIONS

Old - A persistent theme through Lovecraft's stories is the idea of creatures that pre-date humanity as well as their civilizations, literature/folklore, and cities.

1222   old   (51)
420   years   (155)
415   ancient   (158)
179   age   (346)
115   forgotten   (517)
112   elder   (527)
109   ruins   (544)
97   century   (618)
96   legends   (631)
93   older   (659)
87   primal   (715)
70   history   (934)
70   lore   (935)
69   centuries   (951)
60   antique   (1083)
58   aeons   (1124)
58   archaic   (1126)
55   legend   (1205)
55   scroll   (1208)
44   primitive   (1497)
43   antiquity   (1512)
38   folklore   (1708)
35   myth   (1840)
34   myths   (1898)
32   ancestors   (1975)
30   aeon   (2103)
30   immemorial   (2129)
28   ruin   (2289)
28   tradition   (2311)
24   ancestor   (2605)
23   prehistoric   (2798)
23   primordial   (2799)
21   antiquarian   (2978)
21   parchment   (3037)
20   elderly   (3131)
20   historical   (3151)
Total   Percent of words used
3934   0.640%


Religion - Much of this stems from the nature of the mythos surrounding the Old Gods rather than references to historically established religions.

235   gods   (259)
181   god   (342)
129   church   (465)
79   cult   (811)
66   priests   (997)
65   magic   (1008)
58   priest   (1136)
56   blasphemous   (1175)
47   rites   (1410)
43   spell   (1539)
37   worship   (1775)
33   mystic   (1948)
31   wizard   (2099)
28   sacrifices   (2291)
28   souls   (2299)
27   occult   (2362)
26   blasphemy   (2405)
26   ritual   (2472)
25   blasphemies   (2514)
23   cults   (2733)
23   sacred   (2805)
23   sacrifice   (2806)
23   superstitious   (2816)
21   mystical   (3033)
Total   Percent of words used
1333   0.217%


MISC.

Months - I ran this comparison simply out of curiosity after seeing a pattern to Lovecraft's preference for colors (i.e., lots of black and green; not so much blue and purple).  Nothing jumps out at me here though beyond restating the statistics like "He prefers April to December by a more than two-to-one ratio."

385*   may   (169)
67*   march   (980)
48   april   (1354)
46   august   (1419)
43   july   (1525)
40   november   (1635)
39   june   (1669)
36   october   (1801)
34   september   (1906)
25   january   (2551)
23   february   (2746)
21   december   (2995)
Total   Percent of words used
807   0.131%

*These are obviously artificially inflated by other, unrelated meanings.


Proper names - As mentioned above, I only selected a few choice proper names from the collected works.  This is primarily to avoid spoilers.  However, there are many characters (human and otherwise) who appear in more than one story.

172   Arkham   (355)
61   Miskatonic   (1076)
59   Necronomicon   (1114)
46   Cthulhu   (1424)
Total   Percent of words used
338   0.055%


Top 100 - This is presented more as a frame of reference for interpreting the other numbers on this page.  I did look at the first twenty-five or so words on this list in comparison with the top 100 most frequently-used words in the English language, and it's more or less in line with that.  The exceptions are things like fewer uses of "you" or "your," which makes sense since this is fiction, so there are fewer instances in which to write in second-person.  It is more difficult to interpret as you go, however, because the list I had on hand for all English only went to 100, and so the lists started deviating before they ended, meaning some words in Lovecraft's top 100 did not appear until the 100 on the reference list.

41563   the   (1)
23729   and   (2)
22897   of   (3)
13216   to   (4)
12689   a   (5)
10836   in   (6)
9391   i   (7)
8335   was   (8)
8081   that   (9)
6796   had   (10)
6075   he   (11)
5921   it   (12)
4481   as   (13)
4456   with   (14)
4227   his   (15)
3874   for   (16)
3653   at   (17)
3594   which   (18)
3549   on   (19)
3525   but   (20)
3469   from   (21)
3381   not   (22)
3286   my   (23)
2967   were   (24)
2487   by   (25)
2399   be   (26)
2353   all   (27)
2277   they   (28)
2237   or   (29)
2202   this   (30)
2149   me   (31)
2143   there   (32)
2057   have   (33)
2024   an   (34)
1964   could   (35)
1867   one   (36)
1819   no   (37)
1806   him   (38)
1766   when   (39)
1628   we   (40)
1625   is   (41)
1584   been   (42)
1579   what   (43)
1573   so   (44)
1553   would   (45)
1546   some   (46)
1457   their   (47)
1340   more   (48)
1315   its   (49)
1291   out   (50)
1222   old   (51)
1203   you   (52)
1201   now   (53)
1171   about   (54)
1169   them   (55)
1156   only   (56)
1151   up   (57)
1067   before   (58)
1064   did   (59)
1061   into   (60)
1020   seemed   (61)
1017   very   (62)
1013   then   (63)
1011   than   (64)
1003   time   (65)
991   who   (66)
989   like   (67)
977   great   (68)
960   those   (69)
948   through   (70)
943   even   (71)
929   any   (72)
922   after   (73)
921   man   (74)
906   if   (75)
892   things   (76)
891   though   (77)
866   must   (78)
855   where   (79)
850   saw   (80)
814   over   (81)
808   down   (82)
782   t   (83)
780   our   (84)
778   other   (85)
767   are   (86)
762   these   (87)
738   found   (88)
726   night   (89)
725   came   (90)
716   such   (91)
708   might   (92)
700   upon   (93)
691   long   (94)
668   whose   (95)
661   thing   (96)
647   made   (97)
639   never   (98)
635   strange   (99)
624   once   (100)
Total   Percent of words used
306770   49.924%


Antonyms

A comparison of obvious antonyms also serves to demonstrate Lovecraft's leanings to the figurative "dark side."  For example:

Hot and cold
161   cold   (376)
25   hot   (2548)

Black and white
540   black   (118)
213   white   (286)

Night and day
726   night   (89)
426   day   (154)

Dark and light
459   dark   (141)
146   darkness   (408)
439   light   (151)
82   lights   (777)
44   lighted   (1489)

Sun and moon
244   moon   (249)
142   sun   (431)

Also:
62   moonlight (plus 22 uses of moonlit)
25   sunlight (plus 0 uses of sunlit)

Old and new
1222   old   (51)
460   new   (140)

   
      

Copyright 2012 the Ale[x]orcist.
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