Lon Chaney, Jr., as a werewolf in The Wolf Man (1941).—Courtesy of Universal Pictures; photograph, Lincoln Center Library of the Performing Arts, New York Public Library

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.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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