Werewolf: he or it? [she?]

ArmadilloAbcd

Senior Member
Italian
Hello,

I was wondering what is the correct pronoun designating the word "werewolf"
On the one hand, the term refers to a wolfman, so I would use "he".
Still, the werewolf is a monster and not a human being, so the pronoun "it"
would seem more fitting...

Could you help me, please?
 
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  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I don't know any personally but I believe many start life as regular humans. I'd use "he" and "she".
     

    ArmadilloAbcd

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you very much, Barque!

    I didn't now that, Hermione! Thank you very much!
    Here is a quote from the Oxford Etymology dictionary:

    werewolf (n.)
    late Old English werewulf "person with the power to turn into a wolf," from wer "man, male person" (from PIE *wi-ro- "man, freeman;" see virile) + wulf (see wolf (n.);

    Very interesting indeed! :)

    P.S. And Myridon too! I'm reading your post just now.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The etymological fallacy rears its ugly head.
    woman
    "adult female human," late Old English wimman, wiman (plural wimmen), literally "woman-man,"
    You'll have to explain why you think I was talking about woman/ wimmen/ woman-man/ and all that stuff.

    I was talking about 'wer' meaning man, as in wergeld and werwolf.

    Etymology
    From Middle English wer, from Old English wer ‎(“a male being, man, husband, hero”), from Proto-Germanic *weraz ‎(“man”), from Proto-Indo-European *wiHrós ‎(“man, freeman”). Cognate with Middle High German wër ‎(“man”), Swedish värbror ‎(“brother-in-law”), Norwegian verfader ‎(“father-in-law”), Latin vir ‎(“man, husband”).

    Noun
    wer ‎(plural wers)

    1. (obsolete) A man.
    2. (obsolete) Wergeld.
    Related terms

     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    You'll have to explain why you think I was talking about woman/ wimmen/ woman-man/ and all that stuff.

    I was talking about 'wer' meaning man, as in wergeld and werwolf.
    I believe he was making the point that if you think 'werewolf' automatically refers to a man because part of it derives from the Old English word for 'man', then the same argument must also apply to 'woman'.

    I think it's safe to say that the word 'werewolf' in modern usage is gender neutral, and so you should use the appropriate gender pronoun for the man/woman who has become a werewolf, although 'it' would also be correct.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I'm pretty sure Frankenstein's monster was referred to as "he" or "him". Though he was assembled from several so I guess you could call him "them".

    I guess it depends upon whether you view him (the werewolf) anthropomorphically, or if you view him as a "pure" monster.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks for that possible explanation Copper. < ---- >
    In any case, my comment was lighthearted.




    < ---- > Off topic comment removed. Cagey, moderator.
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I believe he was making the point that if you think 'werewolf' automatically refers to a man because part of it derives from the Old English word for 'man', then the same argument must also apply to 'woman'.

    I think it's safe to say that the word 'werewolf' in modern usage is gender neutral, and so you should use the appropriate gender pronoun for the man/woman who has become a werewolf, although 'it' would also be correct.
    I agree. I think "werewolf" is like "dog". "Dog" refer to either gender when not be specific. But when being gender-specific it is "dog" (male), "bitch" (female), "pup" (young). Wolves use the same terminology.

    See:

    http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0872847.html


    Tiger Tiger Tigress Cub
    Whale Bull Cow Calf
    Wolf Dog Bitch Pup
    Dog Dog Bitch Pup
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It seems there are women 'werewolves', 'were-women', in some cultures. I hadn't read about them which explains my hesitation about the idea they might be female and I don't think they're so common in Northern European folk-myth.

    Werewoman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    To get back to the OP, I think it's hard to say whether to use 'she' or 'he' or 'it'. I suppose it depends on what aspect of the creature the writer wishes to emphasise.
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    A werewolf is a man or woman who is also an animal. Most people refer to animals they are familiar with as "he" or "she." I've never heard anyone say "I called my dog but it wouldn't come" or "I was putting a saddle on my horse and noticed that it had a sore leg." But we generally refer to animals we are not familiar with as "it." "I saw a black dog but I don't know who it belongs to," or "That horse is limping, maybe it has a loose shoe."

    I think it would be the same with werewolves. Not that I know any of them personally.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I think a werewolf is only a he or she while in the transition like here (a "he"):



    Or here (a "she"):



    Or here (an "it"), as it has passed through the transition stage:

     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    I think a werewolf is only a he or she while in the transition like here (a "he"):
    There seems to be some disagreement on how werewolves manifest. Some werewolves manifest as a cross between a human and a wolf, i.e. a bipedal hairy person with elongated fingernails and sharp teeth, and perhaps a tail. Whereas I believe the earliest traditional werewolves were actually shapeshifters, i.e. they were a human until the full moon, when they became a wolf, with no real distinguishing 'human' features, except very subtle ones like slightly elongated paws and a human-like voice.

    So I guess it partly depends on that. A wolfman/woman with (ripped) clothes is more likely to be referred to as if they were a human being, than a human in fully fledged wolf form.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I was wondering what is the correct pronoun designating the word "werewolf"
    On the one hand, the term refers to a wolfman, so I would use "he".
    Still, the werewolf is a monster and not a human being, so the pronoun "it"
    would seem more fitting...
    OP-dillo, I think both are correct, for reasons you state here, and some posters have agreed with. So you cannot make a mistake. You use the pronoun whose meaning you want: monster/animal, or human.

    For example Patricia Briggs writes a series of novels where most of the main characters are werewolves. She speaks about them all as humans with human problems and concerns, and uses "he/she".
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    You use the pronoun whose meaning you want: monster/animal, or human.
    I agree completely. If I were Sir John Talbot, worrying about my son Lawrence's nighttime excursions during the full moon, I would say "he;" if I were one of the people whose town was being ravaged by a monster, I would say "it."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I agree completely. If I were Sir John Talbot, worrying about my son Lawrence's nighttime excursions during the full moon, I would say "he;" if I were one of the people whose town was being ravaged by a monster, I would say "it."
    I guess you can say anything you want; werewolves are fictional characters. You make up the character/monster and then you get to makeup the pronouns to go with it. And, of course, somewhere along the line someone decided to make up the story about the wooden stake in the heart.

    Fiction. (Worse than that, science fiction without the benefit of any science.)
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    And, of course, somewhere along the line someone decided to make up the story about the wooden stake in the heart.
    I think it's a silver bullet for a werewolf (he, she, or it) and a wooden stake for a lamia (she only). (I never got what silver bullets did for the Lone Ranger.)
     
    I think it's a silver bullet for a werewolf (he, she, or it) and a wooden stake for a lamia (she only). (I never got what silver bullets did for the Lone Ranger.)
    (Not to go off topic I hope, but Google informs me that the Lone Ranger used silver bullets as a symbol of "pure justice" and also to call attention to the fact that a heavy price must be paid for the firing of any bullet.):)
     
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