Wednesday, April 16, 2014


A Curated Selection of Wonderfully Gruesome Sentences from Wikipedia

Welcome to mid-April; or, that dark chasm of working days that stretches on with no holidays until Memorial Day. Joy! In that spirit, I've been hitting the Wikipedia hard lately, and these are the most gruesome sentences I could find. I consider it a public service to share them. I'm sorry.

Anencephaly. “The most common type of anencephaly, in which the brain is completely absent.”

(Even if you can stomach the first photo, don’t scroll down. Seriously, don’t. I screamed out loud at work. Similar precautions go for the following 25 entries.)

Belle Gunness. “Hack driver Clyde Sturgis delivered many such trunks to her from La Porte and later remarked how the heavyset woman would lift these enormous trunks ‘like boxes of marshmallows,’ tossing them onto her wide shoulders and carrying them into the house.”

(runner-up: Botfly. “Squeezing the larvae out is not recommended, as it can cause the larvae to rupture; their bodily fluids have been known to cause severe anaphylactic shock.”)

Carlos II. “The physician who practiced his autopsy stated that his body ‘did not contain a single drop of blood; his heart was the size of a peppercorn; his lungs corroded; his intestines rotten and gangrenous; he had a single testicle, black as coal, and his head was full of water.’”

Dyatlov Pass incident. “Some were found wrapped in snips of ripped clothes that seemed to have been cut from those who were already dead.” (In sum, this is possibly the best Wikipedia entry of all time, not to get all superlative or anything.)

(runner-up: Danny Lyons. “As Lizzie the Dove lay dying she was said to have told Gentle Maggie that she would ‘meet you in hell and there scratch your eyes out.’”)

Elizabeth Báthory. “Before being burned at the stake, Semtész and Jó had their fingers ripped off their hands with hot pincers, while Ficko, who was deemed less culpable, was beheaded, and his body burned.”

Flaying. “Generally, an attempt is made to keep the removed portion of skin intact.”

Gangrene. “The affected part is edematous, soft, putrid, rotten and dark.”

Helios Airways Flight 522. “They intercepted the passenger jet at 11:24 and observed that the first officer was slumped motionless at the controls and the captain's seat was empty.”

Iron Maiden (torture device). “It was anthropomorphic, probably styled after primitive ‘Gothic’ representations of Mary, the mother of Jesus, with a cast likeness of her on the face.”

Jellied Eel. “The eel is a naturally gelatinous fish so the cooking process releases proteins, like collagen, into the liquid which solidify on cooling to form a jelly, though gelatin may be added in order to aid this process.”

Katherine Knight. “She then decapitated him and cooked parts of his body, serving up the meat with baked potato, pumpkin, zucchini, cabbage, yellow squash and gravy in two settings at the dinner table, along with notes beside each plate, each having the name of one of Price's children on it; she was preparing to serve his body parts to his children.”

Localized cicatricial pemphigoid. “Nikolsky's sign is present in case of pemphigus only but not in the case of pemphigoid.” (This is terrifying because none of these words mean anything to me.)

Marion Parker. “Her eyes were wired open so as to make her appear alive.”

Necrotizing fasciitis. “For reasons that are unclear, it occasionally occurs in people with an apparently normal general condition.”

Ovalteenies. “Ovalteenies are round sweets made of compressed Ovaltine.’ (Shudder.)

Purgatorio. “The souls of the envious wear penitential grey cloaks, and their eyes are sewn shut, resembling the way a falconer sews shut the eyes of a falcon in order to train it.”

Quiricus and Julietta. “Julietta was tortured, and her three-year-old son, being held by the governor of Tarsus, scratched the governor's face and was killed by being thrown down by some stairs.”

Rat king (folklore). “It consists of 32 rats.” (Imagine that on the A train.) (Sorry, I have to go have a little sick now.)

Scaphism. “The condemned was forced to ingest milk and honey to the point of developing a severe bowel movement and diarrhea, and more honey would be poured on his exposed appendages and on his genitals to attract insects.“

Teratoma. “The tissues of a teratoma, although normal in themselves, may be quite different from surrounding tissues and may be highly disparate; teratomas have been reported to contain hair, teeth, bone and, very rarely, more complex organs or processes such as eyes, torso, and hands, feet, or other limbs.” (Screaming.)

Unusual deaths. “Garry Hoy, a 38-year-old lawyer in Toronto, fell to his death on 9 July 1993, after he threw himself against a window on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in an attempt to prove to a group of visitors that the glass was "unbreakable," a demonstration he had done many times before.“ (Go read this page and you’ll appreciate how hard it is to pick just one sentence. Sadly, it’s been edited down lately, and I would be remiss if I didn’t send you here instead.)

Verrucous carcinoma. “This form of cancer is often seen in those who chew tobacco or use snuff orally, so much so that it is sometimes referred to as ‘Snuff dipper's cancer.’” (If you’re trying to get someone to quit tobacco, maybe show them the pictures.)

Who put Bella in the Wych Elm? “He found taffeta in her mouth, suggesting that she had died from asphyxiation.”

Xabi Alonso. “Alonso was regarded as a quiet and friendly person by his former teammates at Liverpool.” (Xabi Alonso is not gruesome, he’s an adorable Spanish footballer, but I thought you deserved a treat for making it this far.)

Yellow fever. “Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract will cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vomito negro (‘black vomit’).”

Zelus biloba. “Zelus biloba is a species of assassin bug found in Florida.” (This is terrifying because it is the only sentence. Although I’m not surprised that it’s found in Florida.)


Previously: Imaginary Miniseries I Would Enjoy More than Downton Abbey

Molly Pohlig lives in Brooklyn and works in publishing. She is currently tweeting her way through Proust, all seven volumes, at @poppycockltd.

17 Comments / Post A Comment


I know the single sentence is your subject here, but the sentence following the one for Unusual Deaths is the real gem: "The glass did not break, but popped out of the window frame."


@realizedniche Same thing with the article on Marion Parker, except this sentence came before: "Her arms and legs had been cut off and she had been disemboweled and stuffed with rags."


@realizedniche my favorite of all of the "List of Ununsual Deaths" is a story I learned in undergrad, Chrysippus, a Stoic Philosopher in classical Greece:

"...he was watching a donkey eat some figs and cried out: "Now give the donkey a drink of pure wine to wash down the figs", whereupon he died in a fit of laughter."

As a person who loves philosophy, figs, goats, and wine, this is my favorite thing ever.


Yes! Love these types of articles on here. I spent HOURS in the "entries to read in the dark" one a while back.


“Garry Hoy, a 38-year-old lawyer in Toronto, fell to his death on 9 July 1993, after he threw himself against a window on the 24th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in an attempt to prove to a group of visitors that the glass was "unbreakable"...

I feel compelled to share that I work (and indeed, am working at this very moment) in the building directly across the street from the TD Centre.

Andrea Langille@facebook

@greyeminence oh! This is an unusual convergence of both my real life and my Internet life! Garry Hoy is my mother's cousin, and I was just visiting grandparents in Toronto this weekend. He died when I was very young but I have a necklace passed on from him and a photograph of us together from when I was a baby.


I got bit by an assassin bug in Florida when I was 3 years old, at my grandpa's funeral. It is one of the earliest things I remember, and it was indeed terrifying.

de Pizan

I had a brother with anencephaly, only his brain stem developed. They only discovered something was wrong in the last few weeks of the pregnancy, and my mom was lucky in that her doctor was the only one in the entire state who had dealt with an anencephaly baby before. This was in the late 60s, and when he was born, the doctors wouldn't let my mom see him (thinking it would upset her too much); my dad did see him but never talked about it. The baby only lived for 6 hours.

de Pizan

On Katherine Knight, this sentence "She was disarmed when police attacked her with brooms"....I now have this amazing image of Queensland police carrying brooms as part of their arsenal with which to disarm criminals.


I should not be allowed on wikipedia because that "Random Article" option is just too much for me. This is where it lead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_rejection


Wow this list is the answer to all of my prayers. Thank you for improving my evening 1,000 fold.


It's probably NOT a good thing that I knew a lot of these already, right?

Marion Parker has haunted me for a long time. The idea of her father seeing her from a distance and being so hopeful, and then stumbling to her body to see what had been done to her.. Brrrrr.

Gef the Talking Mongoose

Re. Scaphism, see also Mellified man :

After a century or so, the contents would have turned into a sort of confection reputedly capable of healing broken limbs and other ailments. This confection would then be carefully sold in street markets as a hard to find item with a hefty price.

or Elsa!

I was about to go on my rant about how I wish Wikipedia offered an option to turn off images by default, then I stopped and thought "Huh… are you sure they don't? Did you ever check?" AND THEY TOTALLY DO, so I'm going to do that.

This will be so helpful, not just because I don't need to see botfly ravages or necrotizing fasciitis when I hit "random entry" but also because one of my long-term writing projects requires me to research a thing about which I am phobic, and now I'll be able to read about it without also implanting images into my imagination.


This really answered my drawback, thanks! it is a very nice site and i book mark ur site.
Free Game Pc


These are all delightful. May I also suggest:

Jimmy Lee Gray: "At the time of Gray's execution, the gas chamber used in Mississippi had a vertical iron bar directly behind the inmate's chair."

Welsh Corgi: "There has recently been a concern regarding the population size of the Welsh Corgi."

Marburg Virus Disease: "There is currently no effective marburgvirus-specific therapy for MVD."

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