This post is for all the word lovers out there. The word “werewolf” is obviously one we have all heard before and like any word this one’s origins can be traced way back . But werewolf isn’t the only word used to describe our beloved furry beasts, of course not, there are many. In the beginning of the thirteenth century Gervase of Tillbury wrote in Latin in his Otia Imperialia that “In English they say werewolf, for in English were means man and wolf means wolf.” But in Medieval Latin werewolf was written guerulfus.
But what about other parts of the world? How many different words are there for werewolf? Well in Scandinavia, the Norwegian version of werewolf is vargulf, which means “rogue wolf.” In Swedish it’s varulf and in Danish it’s vaerulf. The Norse words ulfhedhnar (wolf-clothed) and ber-werker (in German, barenhauter) refer to the skins worn by the fearsome warriors when they went berserk or war-mad (it was believed they took on the traits and spirit of wolves).
Then you have some of the other parts of Europe, you got the Medieval Norman word, garwalf; Norman-French, loup-garou; in Portugal, lobarraz; in Italy, upo-manaro; in Calabria, lupu-minaru; and in Sicily, lupa minaru.
You got those down? Now for the Slavonic languages, here the werewolf is called vlukodlak, meaning “wolf haired” or “wolf skinned.” In Bulgaria, vulkolak; in Poland, wilkolak; in Russia, olkolka or volkulaku; in Serbia, vulkodlak.
And finally we end at modern Greek, the word brukolakas or bourkolakas can apply to vampires and werewolves, since it comes from a Slavic word for a creature that attacks or flies at night.
Who knew there were so many words for just one creature? Now when some of you huge werewolf fans go to a new website and enter werewolf in as a username only to learn that it has already been taken, you can come back here and pick other another version of werewolf to use. Yay!
Sweet! I was looking for info on the term “vulkodlak” and stumbled across your article. I’ll be bookmarking it so I can research some of the other names later. Thanks!