Awesome words: revenant

Les-SpectresRevenant: A ghost or returning spirit.

This word has been lifted as-is from French, and means ‘ghost’ in that language. It is related to the French word ‘revenir’, meaning to come back or return.

For me, the sound of this word evokes other other words that give ‘revenant’ a heightened sense of macabre loss. Such as:

Remnant: something incomplete. This makes me think of a ‘revenant’ as a shade, or a scrap of soul torn away.

Reave: an archaic word evoking unnecessary violence in times long past. From the Old English, reafian,  to rob, and related to the Old High German, roubon, to rob, and Old Norse, roufa, to break open. (Source:

Bereaved: deprived and made desolate by death.

These are my own associations; nothing I read in researching the origins of ‘revenant’ suggests any relationship between this word and any of the others I’ve listed above. In fact, the word ‘revenant’ literally means ‘return’ in French. But, even so, I love words that evoke others. For me, this add layers of meaning and richness to prose.

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