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 *weh₁- (“true”); whence also Latin vērus) + 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 and had thus broken their baptismal vows / betrayed Christianity). Cognate with Old High German wārlogo (“truce-breaker, traitor”).
A few writers alternatively propose derivation from Old Norse varðlokkur (“caller of spirits”), but as the OED notes, this is implausible due to the extreme rarity of the Norse word and because forms without hard -k, which are consistent with the Old English etymology (“traitor”), are attested earlier than forms with -k, and forms with -ð- are not attested.
warlock (plural warlocks)
- A male magic-user; a male witch.
- 1730, Edward Burt, Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland:
- He was himself a warlock, or wizard, which they knew by his taking the witch's part.
- 1902, John Buchan, The Outgoing of the Tide
- It was the day of warlocks and apparitions, now happily driven out by the zeal of the General Assembly.
- Because of its etymology, the term is not used by some male witches, who prefer other terms like witch instead.
- ^ M. Loewe, C. Blacker, Oracles and Divination (1981), page 130: "'Vardlokkur'...is related to the Scots dialect word 'warlock', wizard, and the meaning is thought to relate to the power to shut in or enclose"
- ^ Oxford English Dictionary, (online) 2nd Edition (1989): "ON. varðlokkur wk. fem. pl. ... incantation, suggested already in Johnson, is too rare (? occurring once), with regard to the late appearance of the -k forms, to be considered."
- ^ Nigel Pennick, Pagan Magic of the Northern Tradition (2015, →ISBN: "The northern English and Scots word warlock, meaning a cunning man or practitioner of spellcraft, is rarely used today except pejoratively. Because dictionaries have given it meanings such as “liar” and “deceiver,” the word has fallen from use."
- ^ Carl McColman, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Paganism (2002, →ISBN, page 51: 'Words ike "wizard" or "magician" aren't used and especially not "warlock."'
- ^ Hans Holzer, The New Pagans (1972), page 60: "Those who do not know about Wicca, especially the uninformed press, like to refer to a male follower of witchcraft as a warlock. While the term "warlock" is certainly a valid description of a person engaged in pagan rituals, it is never used in Wicca, or 'white' witchcraft."
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).
warlock (plural warlocks)
- the Devil
- warlock; a man who is thought to be in league with the powers of darkness and to have supernatural knowledge and means of bewitching and harming others
- (attributive, in combination) bewitched, magical, supernatural; malevolent, mischievous
- (derogatory) an old, ugly or misanthropic man; a mischievous or troublesome fellow
- (male magic user): juglour, sorcerar, varlet, weird
- (female magic user): ell-woman, galdragon, gyre carline, hexie, sorceres, wancanny carlin, weird-woman, wise woman, wise wife, witch, witch-carline, witch-queen, witch-wife