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Like when Zuko yells at lightning to strike him (but ideally more in the sense of insulting a deity). Imagine standing on top of a cliff during a thunderstorm, clenching your fists and and screaming at the top of your lungs "ARE YOU WITH ME!? WHERE ARE YOU, GOD!?" toward the sky. Kind of like "invocation," "appeal", or "curse", but definitely none of those.

Example sentences: "The cultists recited a ritual _____ in unison" "Desperate, the beggar collapsed to his knees and ____'d at his luck" "It was suddenly very clear now--he had been tricked! He _____'d at Loki for his cruel deception."

I'm looking for an action more emotionally charged than "curse"

I'm open to the possibility of a compound word or phrase being what I'm looking for, but should be decently idiomatic.

  • 1
    Certainly, a major sense of 'invocation' is 'a calling out to God (/ a deity in non-monotheistic faiths), often in a formulaic way. 'Imprecation' is a curse / the act of cursing. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 9 at 14:29
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    Is it necessary to be a single word? Multiple words can be good too? Are you writing poetry where it has to fit some meter? – Mitch Aug 9 at 14:43
  • 'Imprecation' might work, if you can think of it as a shout. A short phrase might work too. Just try to fill in the blanks. – Thomas Kagan Aug 10 at 2:25
  • Your example sentences are at odds with each other. The first one would be an invocation. The second would be cursing at his luck. And the third would be cursed or railed at. – David M Aug 14 at 13:33
  • @DavidM I accepted "railed at" as the solution – Thomas Kagan Aug 27 at 1:47
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I would probably use the word railed here.

He railed at the gods for their treachery.

Railed at (or against) implies to curse at or denounce someone or something and it has the emotional implications you are seeking.

rail against/at/about
Complain or protest strongly and persistently about.

‘he railed at human fickleness’

Synonyms: protest strongly at, make a protest against, fulminate against, inveigh against, rage against, thunder against, declaim against, remonstrate about, expostulate about, make a fuss about, speak out against, express disapproval of, criticize severely, denounce, censure, condemn
Oxford Dictionaries/Lexico

  • The particular usage "railed at", with the "at" or "against" works for my case. It's expressive enough but does not sound too pretentious in the context I want to use it in. Works for 2/3 example sentences I gave. Thanks! – Thomas Kagan Aug 27 at 1:50
  • Also "fulminate" sounds work, one of the synonyms for it according to google is literally "thunder." But my issue with it is I don't think many people read it literally like that – Thomas Kagan Aug 27 at 1:53
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I know the scene you refer to, and the closest I can get is either:

Zuko taunts the gods from the mountaintop.

or

Zuko scorned the gods from the mountaintop.

  • Welcome. Perhaps you can expand upon your answer and explain why you feel it answers the question. – David M Aug 14 at 13:30
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What about one of these (all from Merriam-Webster)?

  • Excoriate: To censure scathingly
  • Castigate: To subject to severe punishment, reproof, or criticism
  • Lambaste: To attack verbally
  • Vituperate: To abuse or censure severely or abusively

I think using a less common word than simply curse, along with one with more syllables, gives the expression more oomph.


In a more strictly religious sense, you could also use blaspheme: to speak in a way that shows irreverance for God or something sacred

  • The cultists recited a ritual blasphemy in unison.
  • Desperate, the beggar collapsed to his knees and blasphemed his luck (not sure how well this fits here, since luck isn't a deity).
  • It was suddenly very clear now—he had been tricked. He blasphemed Loki for his cruel deception.

While I think we currently tend to use blasphemy in a more general sense (speaking ill about a deity, rather than to a deity), it might give you the gravity you're seeking.

  • I like these suggestions, but to my ear they sound too contrived for my use case. I think you could reduce them all to "censure," and I don't think any of them make you think of someone yelling – Thomas Kagan Aug 27 at 1:45
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Damned

You ‘invoke’ a deity, or the deity’s power - by calling them to you (or having that intention).

An ‘invocation’ is such a call to action - the actual words that call the deity. ‘Incantation’ is an alternative.

A curse is a ‘negative invocation’ or wish.

‘Damned’ means ‘sent to the devil’ or cursed. ‘Swore’ means cursed, in the sense of ‘used pejorative words’.

Cursed is already quite emotionally charged, in my view.

Hence:

The cultists recited a ritual _invocation (or curse) in unison" "Desperate, the beggar collapsed to his knees and _(swore at) or _curse 'd at his luck" "It was suddenly very clear now--he had been tricked! He ____curse_'d at Loki (or ‘damned’ Loki) for his cruel deception."

You could use ‘cursed’ for all 3, otherwise I think you’ll need a few different words.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/curse

https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/invocation

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