“Beheaded”

An American is beheaded. We have so many ways to kill one another but even the word beheaded beckons to another time. I cannot recall the last time I read it in a modern context. Why not use decapitate, or would that sound too much like something Freddie or Chucky would do? In Syria or Iraq another person is beheaded, head bagged, and another, on bent knees. Beheaded. A black-masked killer. This Old English word backs into the evening news beat. I would like to advocate breathing new life into betrothed, or beloved.

Caroline Bock

About Caroline Bock

Caroline Bock is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novels: LIE (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and BEFORE MY EYES (St. Martin's Press, 2014). She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. More at www.carolinebock.com.



  • Sandy Wasserman

    I seem to recall that Eskimos have 50 different words for ‘snow.’ Surely there are subtleties among the various words, but still we’d get the idea… As far as the use of the words ‘kill,’ and ‘murder,’ there are differences, too. In the Jewish Bible we ‘kill’ an animal ritually; we slaughter it for food. But we ‘murder’ another human being- we don’t kill him. [I believe the 10 Commandments in all forms of the Christian Bible (in English) do not make that distinction since there is no ritual slaughter, as in ‘thou shalt not kill.’] But the Hebrew makes the distinction here, and uses the verb ‘to murder’ leaving ‘to kill’ only for ritual slaughter. … All this tangential said, our society seems to have taken a downturn since we seem to be using and reading ever-so-lightly, the word beheaded [or any other words that mean the same thing] much more lately than betrothed.

  • Sandy, I am in awe. This is a Talmudic commentary on my piece of flash fiction. I agree, words matter: in English, or Hebrew, or Aramaic, (though I do not profess in any way to be literate in the last two and am only a life-long student of the first!), and in all the languages of the people who live in our modern Tower of Babel, and who seek understanding, and hopefully, ultimately peace. Thank you so much for your insights!