Etymology Expeditions: Mythological Creatures

The theme this week: things a witcher would kill. Enjoy!

Let's start with the griffin. What? You don't remember what it looks like? Okay, this is the one that has the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. The word comes from Late Latin grypus, variant of gryps, meaning "curved, hook-nosed," so a hooked beak. Gryphon is an archaic alternative spelling.

The basilisk gets its name from Greek basiliskos, "little king." It was supposed to have a crest or spot that resembled a crown on its forehead. The creature became hopelessly mixed up with the legend of the cockatrice (from Latin calcare "to tread"). A serpent hatched from a cock's egg, the traditional way to slay a basilisk is to trick it into seeing its own reflection, because its glance is fatal.

I haven't come across a manticore in the game yet, but here goes... The manticore has the body of a lion, the head of a man, porcupine quills, and the tail of a scorpion. The word comes from Greek mantikhoras, probably from Iranian mar-tiya-khvara "man-eater."

The chimera comes from Greek khimaira "year-old she-goat." It had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail. Yeah, that name's kind of deceptive.

You can find the etymology of vampires, werewolves, and ghouls in previous posts, so I won't repeat them here.

Gotta go sharpen my silver sword. I can probably get in a few hours of monster slaying before dinner.


Sources:
http://www.etymonline.com