Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Lycanthropy


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is lycanthropy. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Lycanthropy refers to the power or ability to take the shape and characteristics of a wolf through witchcraft or magic. It can also mean “a delusion that one has become a wolf.”

// The 1941 film The Wolf Man starred Lon Chaney, Jr., as a man cursed with lycanthropy.


“In Marvel comics lore, Jack Russell on his 18th birthday learned of his family’s lycanthropy curse, which … every full moon transforms Jack into a powerful man-wolf hybrid possessing enhanced strength, speed, stamina, agility and reflexes.” — Matt Webb Mitovich,, 12 Sept. 2022

Did You Know?

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.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply