ankou

play
noun an·kou \ˈäŋ-(ˌ)kü\
variants: or

Ankou

Definition of ankou

  1. :  death personified as a skeleton with a scythe or spear especially in the mythology of Brittany, France Ankou is the figure in Breton myth who collects spirits of the dead and brings them to hell. — Miriam Van Scott, Encyclopedia of Hell, 1998 —often used with the Legend has it that whenever a cemetery was started, some poor, unfortunate slob was buried alive to create the ankou. — The Orlando (Florida) Sentinel, 28 Oct. 1993 … serpents, demons and omens of death including the ankou. — David Powell, The Daily Post (Liverpool, England), 11 Apr. 2005

There's more!

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

Origin and Etymology of ankou

borrowed from Breton, going back to Middle & Old Breton ancou, going back to Indo-European *ṇḱu- “death” (whence Cornish ancou “death,” Middle Welsh angheu, Welsh angau, Old Irish éc), zero-grade form of *neḱ- “be destroyed, disappear” — more at noxious


First Known Use: 1869


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up ankou? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!