ly·​can·​thro·​py lī-ˈkan(t)-thrə-pē How to pronounce lycanthropy (audio)
: a delusion that one has become a wolf
: the assumption of the form and characteristics of a wolf held to be possible by witchcraft or magic
lycanthropic adjective

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Whether about Zeus punishing King Lycaon for trickery or a perfectly coiffed werewolf drinking a piña colada in a London bar, tales of lycanthropy—the transformation of a person into a wolf or wolf-like creature—have captivated imaginations for millennia. The word lycanthropy comes from the Greek words lykos, meaning “wolf,” and anthrōpos, meaning “human being.” Halloween, the time of year when you’re most likely to encounter a lycanthropic individual (or several), also happens to be the perfect occasion to drop such etymological knowledge on their tufted little ears. You know, as a treat.

Examples of lycanthropy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That’s an important piece of science that is rivalled in its profundity only by Lund’s conclusions at the same time last year about the nature of lycanthropy on other planets. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 6 Apr. 2023 His entire line was cursed with lycanthropy. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 4 Nov. 2021 Ask your physician if lycanthropy might be right for you! Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Jan. 2023 Gael García Bernal is Jack Russell, a monster hunter who, ironically, is stricken with lycanthropy and must conceal his true identity. Jordan Moreau, Variety, 6 Oct. 2022 Russell has a family history of lycanthropy — or the supernatural transformation of a human into a wolf — but uses his power for good, and is able to remain aware of his transformations. Ellise Shafer, Variety, 28 Aug. 2021 Created by Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Scot Eaton and Benjamin Jackendoff, Gomez is described to be a descendant of the Native American tribe Hopi who has been cursed with lycanthropy, also through his lineage. Ellise Shafer, Variety, 28 Aug. 2021 The fantasies depicted were encyclopedic in their macabre scope, including murder, séances, ghost hunts, telekinesis, black magic, Nazis, lycanthropy and a visit by Jack the Ripper. Erik Piepenburg, New York Times, 14 Feb. 2020 Teen Wolf, Teen Wolf Too (August 1) High school is a tough time for any teenager, and made even tougher by lycanthropy (i.e. werewolf-dom), as both Michael J. Fox and Jason Bateman learn in these 1980s horror-comedies. Nick Schager, Esquire, 28 July 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lycanthropy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin lycanthropia, from Greek lykanthrōpia, from lykanthrōpos werewolf, from lykos wolf + anthrōpos human being — more at wolf

First Known Use

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lycanthropy was in 1594


Dictionary Entries Near lycanthropy

Cite this Entry

“Lycanthropy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2023.

Medical Definition


ly·​can·​thro·​py lī-ˈkan(t)-thrə-pē How to pronounce lycanthropy (audio)
plural lycanthropies
: a delusion that one has become or has assumed the characteristics of a wolf

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