Linguistic and Anthropological Journeys

Here to answer questions on the fields of Anthopology and Linguistics

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Word Origin of the Week 5: Werewolf
Linguistics Timothy Patrick Snyder Anthr
The word Werewolf is common, but it also has its roots all the way back in the Old English era.  The later traditions and means shifted and later media changed what the perception of the word meant.  Pop culture turned the werewolf into a different creature than those depicted in the original texts.

The origins of the word Werewolf is a compound word of the OE wer + OE wulfWer actually means "man, husband" and wulf is directly related to the modern wolf.  This would mean that Werewolf originally meant "man-wolf."  A similar thing could be said about Lycanthrop which is a similar word with Greek roots, meaning "wolf-man."

The word wer is related to the Latin word vir, which has the same meaning (and remember Latin v is /w/).  This is in turn is related to several English word, such as virile and virtue.


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