Definition of ankou
: 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
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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
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