ankou

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

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 ScottEncyclopedia of Hell1998
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) Sentinel28 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”


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