Word for Wednesday: Werewolf

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Halloween is going to be different this year, but we’re still excited to celebrate all things spooky and scary in this month’s Word for Wednesday articles. 

Last week we looked at the word ghost and today’s word is werewolf.  

So what exactly is a werewolf?  

Sometimes referred to as a man-wolf or a lycanthrope, the werewolf suffers an affliction which forces it to change from a human to a wolf or wolf-like creature at the full moon. A human usually becomes contaminated after being bitten or scratched by another werewolf

The werewolf crops up in stories across Europe and evil shapeshifters appear in mythology from all over the world. Humans who shapeshift into hyenas or big cats (lions, tigers, panthers, jaguars) feature in tales from Africa, Asia, and South America. 

The word werewolf comes from the late Old English ‘werewulf’—from ‘wer’ meaning ‘man’ and ‘wulf’. 

Lycanthrope comes from the Modern Latin ‘lyconthropus’, which in turn comes from the Greek ‘lykanthropos’ meaning ‘wolf-man’. The word has been used in English since the 1620s to mean ‘someone who imagines themself to be and behaves like a wolf’, and since the 1820s to mean ‘a human who shapeshifts into a wolf’.

14 Oct 2020
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"I ran the trial with a small group of students over three weeks before the summer holidays," she says. "I quickly saw the benefits, and signed up."

King's Leadership Academy, Warrington