Aletheia LO25915

From: Richard Seel (
Date: 01/17/01

Replying to LO25903 --

Dear At,

Your musing on words and their trajectories through semantic space are
always fascinating. I was a bit surprised by the following, though:

>Perhaps even more
>interesting is the word 'werewolf". It evolved from a combination of two
>words -- again "weor" for (hu)man and "wulf" for wolf.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 'wer' or 'were' was OE for
male person, and secondly a husband (male spouse). Similarly, wif was OE
for female person, latterly one of low estate (still found in 'fish wife',
'old wife' etc.) and secondly a wife (female spouse).

In Old English 'Man' was primarily a genderless word for 'human' or
'person' (as still in German? - Mann kennt, etc.). Gender was indicated by
the terms werman & wifman.

Thus a werewolf is a male phenomenon, perhaps indicating that men, as well
as women, can be subject to the cycles of the moon.

Best wishes,



Richard Seel

New Paradigm Consulting
Organisation Consultancy & Development

Seabrink, Beach Road, Bacton Green, Norfolk NR12 0EP, UK.
+44 (0)1692 650 706


Richard Seel <>

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