White Wolf Word Etymology

A AHRIMANES Ahriman was the Zoroastrian (Persian) god of evil and darkness, the opponent of Ahura Mazda, who was not a Japanese car, but rather the god of goodness and light and everything nice. Possibly echoic of a wolf's howl (as to the full moon)? Provenance unknown to me. Ahroun is the proper pronounciation of the Welsh god of the underworld, Arawn AMARANTH ANTEDILUVIAN ASSAMITE A immortal flower from Greek mythology which never loses its bloom. Hence, several modern English usages. A seldom used English adjective meaning "from before the flood" or metaphorically "very ancient." One would suppose "follower of Assam" or "person from Assam." In all liklihood, the "Assam" referred to here is Hassan as-Sabbah, a member of the Nizari Isma'ili sect of Islam (sort of), popularly known in the West as the Assassins. Most widely known in the Islamic world as the Ta'limiyyah, they were an 11th century Gnostic-Dualist offshoot of Islam, which captured the fortress of Alamut under Hassan's leadership in 1090 and continued to control it and the surrounding region, attempting to redefine Islam and its practice through less-than-pacific means until the fortress was taken by the Mongols in 1256. The name "Assassin" was applied to them by crusaders from a local term "hashshashin", or "hashish eaters." Whether this appellation was due to actual drug use among the sect or merely just an attempt by enemies to portray them as raging dope-fiends is a matter of some contention, though the former interpretation seems to be generally favored. (Mostly from _The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam_ by Cyril Glasse, 1989. Elaboration by popular demand.) A word probably derived from the name of an ancient Semitic deity "Baal" ("lord", cf. the Norse "Frey") who was later regarded as a demon due to bad press in the Bible. This is most probably derived from a Spanish word "bruja" meaning witch. Many have speculated that its choice and spelling may have been influenced by "brouhaha", originally a French word. Presumably a "respelled" version of "cairn", signifying a conical heap of stones. Derived from Gaelic. From an old French word for "captive." A lowly or cowardly person. Spanish in origin. "A small room." The term referred to the chamber of advisors to the Spanish monarchs and consequently has come to indicate a secret cabal or clique of powerful behind-the-scenes string-





pullers. CHANGELING In British folklore, a fairy which takes the place of a stolen human infant. Traditionally, the term has absolutely nothing at all to do with shape-changing, deriving its use from "change" in the sense of exchanging or switching something. An archaic English plural of "child." Equivalent to "children." Probably coined from the Latin "crinis" meaning "hair". Or I suppose it could be from the Greek "krinon", or "lily." :) The authors of W:tA had a habit of taking Latin roots and warping them in peculiar ways to coin words, as we'll see in later entries. Daemon is derived from Greek and means an entity, whether good or evil, which returns after death to watch over something or someone. A cacophony is a raucous noise. di.a.ble.rie Function: noun Etymology: French, from Old French, from diable devil, from Late Latin diabolus -- more at DEVIL Date: 1751 1 : black magic : SORCERY 2 a : a representation in words or pictures of black magic or of dealings with the devil b : demon lore 3 : mischievous conduct or manner An obsolete English adjective meaning "valiant" or "lively". Also an old French dance. An obscure English word from Scottish or northern British dialect meaning a "wanderer" or something to that effect. From the French "loup-garou", meaning "werewolf." "Loup" means "wolf" (from the Latin "lupus", meaning the same), and "garou" descends from the Frankish "wariwulf" ("werewolf", in case it's not obvious) though a long sequence of typically French sound changes. Additionally: Japanese word, Garou, meaning Hungry Wolf GEHENNA Ge.hen.na Function: noun Etymology: Late Latin, from Greek Geenna, from Hebrew GE' HinnOm, literally, valley of Hinnom Date: 1594 1 : a place or state of misery 2 : HELL Italian personal name. Equivalent to "John." Many hold that its use as a surname is rather goofy.





Another view: In regards to 'Giovanni'. It does occur as a surname outside of WoD material. Typically it appears as di Giovanni, implying 'son of' or descendant of. Over time in many Italian names, a couple of letter were dropped or spellings were changed to make them more American/English and thus easier to pronounce and track through a bureaucratic process as spelling errors of names could lead to lost information etc. While I agree that it is a bit corny to use Giovanni as a 'clan name' in VtM, it does have legitimate origins. GLABRO H HISPO HOMID I INCONNU K KINE L LASOMBRA LUPUS M MALKAVIAN METHUSELAH METIS An oft quoted origin is from "mala cavilla", Latin for "bad mockery". Unfortunately, it's may be right. Methuselah comes from the bible, Genesis 5:21, Methuselah was the Son of Enoch. An originally French term meaning "half-breed" or "racially mixed". Widely used in Canada to denote persons of mixed racial background, it is generally considered to be offensive when applied to human beings. People familiar with regions where the term is common frequently recommend anglicizing the pronunciation to "MET-is" in order to avoid any unpleasantness. Undoubtedly from the Spanish "la sombra", literally "the shadow". Latin. "Wolf". An archaic English plural of "cow." Equivalent to "cows" or "cattle". A French word meaning "unknown". The masculine form. In English, it also refers to several species of "large oily freshwater fish." Probably from the Latin "hispidus" meaning "bristly"? A White Wolf coinage, presumably from the Latin "homo","man". Probably after "hominid", a member of the taxonomic family Hominidae. Probably from a Latin root ("glaber") meaning "bald". Compare "glabrous."

N NOSFERATU A very tricky etymology. The word was popularized by its use in Bram Stoker's _Dracula_ (1899), hence the title of Frank Murnau's silent film _Nosferatu_. Many post-Stokerian sources give meanings such as "plague-bearer","not breathing", "not dead", and "an old Romanian word for Devil." There seems to be a general sense that it may be a Romanian word, as suggested by the "-u" ending, although some also give a "nosferat" as either an alternate form or a form inflected for different grammatical number. These sources differ on whether "nosferat" is plural and "nosferatu" singular or vice-versa, but I am

inclined to discount this entirely since it is completely inconsistent with Romanian grammar. Indeed, I am inclined to discount most of the above etymologies due to their clear inconsistency regarding one another and the fact that both the "plague-bearer" and "not breathing" glosses can perhaps be seen to derive from rather doubtful attempts to find Latin morphemes within "Nosferatu". My guesses as to the logic behind a few of these attempts: nos-feratu <- "nos" (?) + Latin "*feratu" (from "fero", 'bear' or 'carry') no-sferatu <- Latin "non" (not) + Latin "spiratus" ('having breathed') I have consulted a number of Romanian dictionaries and encyclopedias with no success in finding "nosferatu". I have asked several native Romanians whether the word was familiar to them and none have recognized it. This would imply that the word, if it really is Romanian at all, is an archaic or little-known dialect expression or perhaps both. It is also conspicuously absent from many books on Romanian folklore which have been compiled from actual field studies, and I have never found a reference which actually recounts any interview with a real live Romanian in which "nosferatu" is used. Considering the extraordinary number of Romanian terms for vampires and related creatures that have been enumerated in such studies, this is odd indeed. Fortunately, Leonard Wolf, in his _Annotated_Dracula_ (1975), identifies Stoker's source for the word (which Wolf glosses as Romanian - "not dead", pg. 193) as _The_Land_Beyond_the_Forest_ by Emily Gerard (1888). From an excerpt in Wolf, th is book appears to be a travel sketch in the classic Victorian manner dealing with Transylvania. Unfortunately, I have never found a copy, so this is as far as I have gotten along these lines. The above evidence however inclines me to doubt the accuracy of Gerard's observation. At one point it was suggested by Carpathian native Triszna Leszczyc on alt.vampyres that "nosferat" may be a corruption or foreign misapprehension of a term "necurat" which is used as a euphemism when referring to the Devil or assorted other evil beings. I haven't looked into it deeply, but there could be something to this. I find it highly possible that it may have influenced the accounts of the "nosferat"/"nosferatu" dichotomy, even if it is not the ultimate source of "nosferatu." Additionally: From the Romanian 'nesuferit', as a noun means 'a nasty fellow', as an adjective "unbearable" or "horrid". The word "nesuferitul," (pronounced without the "l") translates almost literally into "the insufferable one". Additionally: "Nosos" in Greek is "Disease", "Plague", so the Nosferatu are indeed the "Plague-carriers". O OBOLUS (Plural: OBOLI) Obolos/obol. A type of ancient Greek coin worth 1/6 of a drachm. It was revived among the Franks and periodically appeared in European coinages until fairly recently. Greek oboli were small silver coins without

much detail, compared to the often ornate staters and drachms. The obolus was traditionally the coin placed in the mouths of the dead (the naulon) in Greek funerary custom. Some Greek obolus denominations (for the REAL Wraith player): drachmon 1 drachm = 6 oboli pentobolon 5 oboli tetrobolon 4 oboli triobolon 3 oboli diobolon 2 oboli trihemiobolion 3/2 obolus obolon 1 obolus tritemorion 3/4 obolus hemiobolion 1/2 obolus trihemitetartemorion 3/8 obolus tetartemorion 1/4 obolus hemitetartemorion 1/8 obolus (also called a "chalkos") (Denominations from G.F. Hill, _Ancient_Greek_and_Roman_Coins_, Argonaut, Chaicago, 1964.) P PANDER The British term "pander" means a go-between, usually between those looking for a good time and those in the business of providing a good time (a kind of pimp.) "Philodox" is derived from a composition of two common Greek morphemes, "philo-" and "doxa". The first signifies "fondness" or "love", with a generally non-erotic connotation. "Doxa" is some what more complex, as it derives from a root with a base meaning of "showing" with a strong sense of the visual aspect. In other Indo-European languages, this has taken on a sense of demonstration, e.g. the Latin "doceo" (teach) and English "teach." In Greek, it acquired a connotation of seeming, much as other I-E languages have given "showing" or "seeing" verbs this sense, particularly in the passive voice. This sense of seeming gave it a use similar to our word "opinion", which was very appropriate to Plato's use of the term to indicate his notion of opinion, the false seeming of a Platonic form, a mere shadow of truth. Thus several compounds arose from "doxa", for example, (in the English) "orthodox" and "heterodox." The Greeks also gave "doxa" a sense more along the lines of fame or glory, which also clearly falls out of the sense of showing. It is this sense that we usually find in the Greek "philidox" compounds, which indcate a love of fame or glory. However, the word has come into English primarily through Plato's use of it in the fifth book of the republic. Plato was talking about the difference between those who value knowledge of the superficial seeming of something, "doxa" (often r endered as "opinion" or "belief" in English translation), rather than true knowledge, "sophia". Seekers of "sophia" were "philoSOPHers" (meaning lovers of wisdom or knowledge) therefore, he says, we may rightly call those who seek only "doxa" "philoDOXers". Plato has thus reanalyzed this compound and given it a


new use. An interesting clue in the Republic is that he says something to the extent that those who adhere to "doxa" cannot object to being characterized as "philodoxical" because of this analysis. To me, this shows that he recognizes the pejorative nature of the word's usual meaning, which was somewhat like the English "glory-hound." To add a third meaning, the word in English is taken often (perhaps somewhat incorrectly) as little more than a pejorative term in the sense of, to quote the OED, "an argumentative or dogmatic person", much as "sophist", "cynic", "stoic", and "Epicurean" are used today in loose senses which are really not what they originally signified. Additionally: "Philodox" in Greek means something like "ambitious". POOKA "The Pooka, recte Puca, seems essentially an animal spirit. Some derive his name from poc [Gaelic], a she-goat; and speculative persons consider him the forefather of Shakespeare's 'Puck.'" W.B.Yeats _Irish_Folk_and_Fairy_Tales_ Protean is likely derived from name Proteus who was the greek seagod that was able to assume different shapes at will. A term from Western philosophy. The mysterious fifth element, after fire, water, earth, and air. One of dozens of obsolete British colloquial terms roughly synonymous with "vagabond" ,"ne'er-do-well","ragamuffin","shiftless layabout","lazy-ass bum","gangrel", et cetera. A thesaurologism to be sure. A number of people have identified this with a Romani word for "heaven", though I haven't been able to confirm that in a printed source. Another possibility is a connection with the widely (by both a 1980 Punjabi source and a 1930's Soviet lexicographer) reported "ruvno," a Romani adjective meaning something like "wolflike" or "lupine." (from "ruv", "wolf"). Additionally: Old French 'ravis' - to seize or carry off Additionally: Italian slang verb "ravanare" which means "to rummage". Additionally: Ravnos could be an latinized attempt to imply a follower of Ravana, demon-lord of the Rakshasa of Indian mythology. You will note that according to the end-times mythology of recent White Wolf books that the Ravnos antedeluvian was referred to as Ravana, and the Malkavians stereotype of the Ravnos in third addition made some sort of veiled reference to the head of the Rakshasa or some such. REDCAP A type of what Yeats called "solitary fairies". In British folklore, this is the usual English version of the Gaelic "fear dearg" ("red man"), known as a violent and sometimes malevolent trickster.




Old japanese word, it means "Masterless;" when a samurai loses his master, he becomes a ronin. The literal meaning of Ronin is "wave man." Essentailly a man who wanders and flows with changes.

S SABBAT A somewhat archaic English word originally synonymous with "sabbath" and cognate to it. (Such pairs of words are called "doublets".) Since there seems to be some interest in this, I should mention that this form tends to be closely associated (in French as well as English, as pointed out by an astute reader) with the "black" or "witches' sabbat/h", which, in European folklore and heavy-metal bands, is a perversion of the Christian sabbath observance supposedly practiced by various witch/warlock/sorceror/satanist/baby-eating-devil-worshipper-type people. Apparently from the Latin "saluber" meaning "healthy" or "healthful." Another French word, "Samedi" ([sahm-dee], roughly) means "Saturday". The use here almost certainly comes from the name of the Voodoo loa "Baron Samedi", a fairly typical chthonic figure, who is often represented wearing a spiffy top hat. An Irish word, sidhe means "fairy" as in "the little people", "the good people", elves, sprites, and soon. Historically, the word has had two alternate forms, seen in the Old Irish "sid" and "sith". "Sidhe" is apparently the modern derivative of the first form, but the standard dialects of both modern Scottish and Irish Gaelic have preferred the "sith" form. A number of etymologies have been proposed for the Old Irish "sid" or "sith", though none have really emerged as clearly superior. The word is identical in form to a word which means "peace", though it is unknown whether these are two separate words that just happen to have the same form (compare English "mean" as in average and "mean" as in bad-tempered) or are related. In the modern Gaelic languages, sidhe/sith cognates occur mostly in compounds like the Irish bean-sith and daoine-sith, "woman fairy" and "fairy people". Due to the possible connection to sith-"peace", daoine-sith is sometimes translated as "people of peace", though this interpretation is clearly disputable. Folk etymology in Gaelic speaking communities has also led to considerable confusion of the two roots, whether they were originally related or not. The pronunciation, despite the typically strange Irish spelling, is essentially the same as the English "she".



T TELLURIAN THEURGE TOREADOR A little-used English word meaning "earthly" or "terrestrial." A conventional coinage from Greek morphemes. "One who works (manipulates) gods." Spanish. A type of bull-fighter. Additionally: In Spanish, a toreador is a bullfighter - but there's more to it. A bullfighter toys with the bull before he kills it, so the word has

taken on connotations of someone who teases and banters frivolously. Additionally: George Bizet Opera Carmen's Toreador song is one of the most well-known songs of that genre. The chorus, translated into english, can be attributed to members of White Wolf's envisioned clan, since it is rumoured that Ishtar/Arikel is a fan of beauty (selfexplanitory) and blood (fighting): Toreador, on guard! Toreador, Toreador! And dream well, yes, dream of fighting There is a pair of black eyes watching you, That await your love. Toreador, love awaits you! Toreador, on guard! Toreador, Toreador! And dream well, yes, dream of fighting There is a pair of black eyes watching you, That await your love. Toreador, love awaits you! TREMERE TZIMISCE A Latin verb meaning "to tremble". The earlier speculation that it might be Italian was in error since "tremare" is the modern Italian form. This may be either a rather strange spelling of a Yiddish word referring perhaps to a type of "carrot stew" or it may refer to the Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimisces. The "carrot stew" version is reportedly from Mark Rein*Hagen himself, as communicated to me by Alyssa Gulledge. If accurate, I suspect it's related to the Yiddish/German "zermischen" which means something like "to mix up thoroughly" ("zer-" often indicates some destructiveness or violence in the action.) I've seen "tsemishe" (basically "zermische" using an English phonetic spelling) and related forms in a Yiddish reference with the base meaning of "mix up", and the extension to stew seems logical. The specification to carrots is possibly a narrowly distributed dialect feature or possibly even an idiolect feature related to the loss of the use of "zermischen" in a wider context, not an unusual occurrence among descendants of immigrants as the language of their forebears fades from everyday use. The pronunciation of "tsemishe" is much closer to stated pronunciations of "tzimisce" than the pronunciation that I would expect from the spelling of "tzimisce", leading me to wonder how this spelling came about and what its relationship to the epithet of a Byzantine emperor might be. The Emperor's nickname is incidentally the anglicized spelling of the Byzantine Greek spelling of an Armenian nickname, which, according to a medieval Byzantine source, means "shorty" in Armenian. (Tzimisces and his family were of Armenian extraction.) It could be a corruption of the surname Temsice. Like George Temsice; provost of Cassel. Mentioned in Saint Sir Thomas More's "Utopia" U


um.bra Function: noun Etymology: Latin Date: 1638 Inflected Form(s): plural umbras or um.brae 1 : a shaded area This is a simple one. "Ventru" is a French adjective meaning "potbellied." "Ventrue" is just the feminine form of the adjective. I would suggest that this was chosen due to the image of the Ventrue as wellto-do aristoc rats. The contention that the word comes from the French "vent" (wind) seems like whiskers under Occam's razor, but the suggestion that it is a near-anagram of "Ruthven" (except for the pesky 'h' and an extra 'e') is at least inventive :). ("Lord Ruthven" was the name of the title character in Dr. Polidori's 1819 novel _the_Vampyre_, a Gothic work considered the prototype of the vampire genre and probably a thinlydiguised hatchet job of the vampirically smarmy poet Lord Byron .) Additionally: Ventrue could also be a corruption of the word Venture, which would be interesting considering the well known political and economical implications of that word. Written by Ben Buckner


Modifications by: Lance W. Larsen, natasha at tzimisce dot net, Wyrdfox@aol.com, Philippe Desjardins Proulx, RPGGEEKMAN@aol.com , oogian@eden.rutgers.edu, iron_owl@hotmail.com, Tony Cristofaro, Michael Robinson, Michael V. Madsen, Zarli Win, Eric M. Hodge, Marinos, Kenaz

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