/wair"woolf', wear"-, werr"-/, n., pl. werewolves /-woolvz'/.
(in folklore and superstition) a human being who has changed into a wolf, or is capable of assuming the form of a wolf, while retaining human intelligence.
Also, werwolf.
[bef. 1000; ME werwolf, OE werwulf, equiv. to wer man (c. Goth wair, L vir) + wulf WOLF; c. MD weerwolf, OHG werwolf]

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In European folklore, a man who changes into a wolf at night and devours animals, people, or corpses, returning to human form by day.

Some werewolves are thought to change shape at will; others, who inherited the condition or acquired it by being bitten by a werewolf, are transformed involuntarily under the influence of a full moon. Belief in werewolves is found throughout the world and was especially common in 16th-century France. Humans who believe they are wolves suffer from a mental disorder called lycanthropy.

Lon Chaney, Jr., as a werewolf in The Wolf Man (1941).

By courtesy of Universal Pictures; photograph, Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library

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      in European folklore, a man who turns into a wolf at night and devours animals, people, or corpses but returns to human form by day. Some werewolves change shape at will; others, in whom the condition is hereditary or acquired by having been bitten by a werewolf, change shape involuntarily, under the influence of a full moon. If he is wounded in wolf form, the wounds will show in his human form and may lead to his detection. Belief in werewolves is found throughout the world. The psychiatric condition in which a person believes he is a wolf is called lycanthropy (q.v.).

      In countries in which wolves are not common, the monster may assume the form of another dangerous animal, such as the bear, tiger, or hyena. In French folklore, the werewolf is called loup-garou. France was particularly afflicted with reports of them in the 16th century, and there were many notable convictions and executions of loups-garous. As a subject for 20th-century horror films, the werewolf tradition is second only to the vampire tradition in popularity. Werewolves are believed to turn into vampires after death.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Werewolf — For other uses, see Werewolf (disambiguation). Wolf man and Lycanthrope redirect here. For other uses, see Wolf man (disambiguation) and Lycanthrope (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

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