A person believed to have been transformed into a wolf or to be capable of assuming the form of a wolf.
Origin of werewolf
Middle English from
Old English werewulf wer man
; see wī-ro-
in Indo-European roots. wulf wolf
; see wolf
. Word History:
The meaning wolf
is current English; the were
is not. Werewulf,
“werewolf,” occurs only once in Old English, about the year 1000, in the laws of King Canute: “ lest the madly ravenous werewolf too savagely tear or devour too much from a godly flock.
” The wer-
means “man”; it is related to Latin vir
with the same meaning, the source of virile
Both the Germanic and the Latin words derive from Indo-European *wīro-,
also appears, though much disguised, in the word world. World
is first recorded (written wiaralde
) in Old English in a charter dated 832; the form worold
occurs in Beowulf.
The Old English forms come from Germanic *wer-ald-,
“were-eld” or “man-age.” The transfer of meaning from the age of humans to the place where they live has a parallel in the Latin word saeculum,
“age, generation, lifetime,” later “world.”
- (mythology) A person who is transformed or can transform into a wolf or a wolflike human, often said to transform during a full moon.
From Middle English werwolf, from Old English werwulf (“werewoulf", literally “man-wolf"), equivalent to wer +"Ž wolf or were- +"Ž wolf. Cognate with Dutch weerwolf (“werewolf"), Middle Low German werwulf, werwolf, warwulf (“werewolf"), German Werwolf (“werewolf"), Danish varulv (“werewolf"), Swedish varulv (“werewolf"). Compare also French garou, in loup-garou (“werewolf"), French dialectal gairou, varou (“werewolf"), Medieval Latin gerulphus, garulphus (“werewolf") (< Germanic).