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Alternative forms[edit]

  • warluck (uncommon, chiefly dialectal, largely obsolete)
  • warlow (obsolete)


From Middle English warloghe, warlowe, warloȝe, from Old English wǣrloga (traitor, deceiver, literally truce-breaker), from wǣr (covenant, truce, pact, promise) (from Proto-Indo-European *wēr- (true); compare veritable) + loga (liar), from Proto-Germanic *lugô, related to Old English lēogan (whence English lie). The hard -ck ending originated in Scottish and Northern English, like the sense "male magic-user" (from the notion that such men were in league with the Devil). Cognate with Old High German wārlogo (truce-breaker, traitor).

A few writers have alternatively proposed that the word derives from Old Norse varðlokkur (caller of spirits),[1] but as the OED notes, this is implausible due to the extreme rarity of the Norse word and the fact that forms without hard -k, which are consistent with the Old English etymology (“traitor”), are attested earlier than forms with -k[2] (and forms with -ð- are not attested).



warlock (plural warlocks)

  1. A male magic-user; a male witch.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Because of its etymology, the term is not much used by male witches themselves, who often identify as witches instead.[3][4][5]