were·​wolf | \ ˈwer-ˌwu̇lf How to pronounce werewolf (audio) , ˈwir- How to pronounce werewolf (audio) , ˈwər- How to pronounce werewolf (audio) \
plural werewolves\ ˈwer-​ˌwu̇lvz How to pronounce werewolf (audio) , ˈwir-​ How to pronounce werewolf (audio) , ˈwər-​ \

Definition of werewolf

: a person transformed into a wolf or capable of assuming a wolf's form

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Though some doubts about the word’s etymology still remain, "werewolf" probably comes from a prehistoric West Germanic compound whose constituent parts gave Old English "wer" ("man") and "wulf" ("wolf"). The word is related to Middle Dutch "weerwulf" and Old High German werwolf. Another word for "werewolf" is "lycanthrope," which traces back through Latin to a Greek combination of "lyk-" (from lykos, meaning "wolf") and "anthropos" (meaning "man"). English also sometimes makes use of the French-derived word loup-garou, from Old French leu ("wolf") and "garoul" or "garulf" (a word of Germanic origin meaning "werewolf").

Examples of werewolf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Not even celebs are immune to the werewolf-like transformation that seems to occur to the English abroad. Julia Buckley, CNN, 17 July 2021 Benedict Arnold, who’s already wiped out the Continental Congress with automatic weapons, turns into a werewolf and kills Lincoln. John Anderson, WSJ, 29 June 2021 Still, until a few weeks ago, who knew Steinbeck wrote a werewolf murder mystery? Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 21 June 2021 Because people don't expect the aliens, or the vampire, or the werewolf to really come in and kill them. Alex Zhavoronkov, Forbes, 15 June 2021 Showing signs of a dormant family trait, a college freshman becomes a big werewolf on campus. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2021 Showing signs of a dormant family trait, a college freshman becomes a big werewolf on campus. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2021 The crucial opening scene in which Scott is bitten by a werewolf? Samantha Highfill, EW.com, 3 June 2021 Steinman never traded in subtlety, instead opting for opulent maximalism, often invoking imagery of werewolves riding motorcycles, vampire orgies, or smooching the ghost of your ex who was also a motorcycle-riding werewolf. Tres Dean, Vulture, 29 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'werewolf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of werewolf

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for werewolf

Middle English, from Old English werwulf (akin to Old High German werwolf werewolf), from wer man + wulf wolf — more at virile, wolf

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The first known use of werewolf was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Werewolf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/werewolf. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of werewolf

in stories : a person who sometimes changes into a wolf especially when the moon is full


were·​wolf | \ ˈwer-ˌwu̇lf How to pronounce werewolf (audio) , ˈwər- \
plural werewolves\ -​ˌwu̇lvz \

Kids Definition of werewolf

: a person in folklore who is changed or is able to change into a wolf

More from Merriam-Webster on werewolf

Nglish: Translation of werewolf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about werewolf


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