Richard Harland

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The word 'werewolf' means man-wolf. In French, the word for werewolf is 'loup-garou', in Eastern Europe, it's 'volkodlak'. The technical term for werewolfism is 'lycanthropy'.


The legend of werewolves is very old and exists in most countries where wolves once lived. In wolf-less tropical countries, there are often legends of were-tigers and were-leopards. Plagues of werewolves were reported in medieval times, long before anyone talked of vampires.


Werewolves are normally in human form, but change into wolfish form under the full moon. They were thought to look like real wolves, with four legs and a tail, only much more powerful. The idea of two-legged werewolves similar to very hairy human beings is a 20th Century (Hollywood) invention.



According to popular belief, werewolves were liable to turn into vampires when they died.


One common superstition was that werewolves in human form were actually wearing their skin turned inside out like a coat, with the fur facing inwards.


The traditional method of destroying a werewolf was to shoot it with a silver bullet. Another method is to pierce it between the eyebrows with a pitchfork. In medieval times, large savage wolves sometimes escaped after being wounded then everyone in the district had to be examined to see if they bore wounds in the same places!




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