In Germanic folklore, a spirit or creature that dwells in the forest and captures people, carrying them off to their deaths.
Origin of erl-king
- Partial translation of German Erlkönig alteration and partial translation of earlier Danish elverkonge, ellekonge elf-king (taken by Johann Gottfried von Herder in his translation of a Danish ballad as “alder-king,” influenced by German Erle alder, since the alder is associated with the supernatural in Germanic myth and folklore) elv elf albho- in Indo-European roots konge king
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- A part-translation of German ErlkÃ¶nig literally "˜alder-king', a mistranslation of Danish ellerkonge "˜king of the elves'.