All Hallow’s Eve and all its accompanying frightful creatures

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As we approach All Hallow’s Eve and all its accompanying frightful creatures, Merriam-Webster Dictionary presents a set of descriptions of monsters typically associated with Halloween.

Here they are:

#1: Chupacabra

„Some swear the creature is actually a vampire — resembling a large rat, but with horns and fangs … In any case, the Chupacabra … reportedly drains the blood of cows, sheep, and goats throughout the republic, leaving an unusually shaped wound.” — Diana Reiss-Koncar, Vibe, April 1997

Definition: a grotesque creature that drinks the blood of livestock and is reported to exist in North and South America

Word Origin: From Spanish chupa, 3rd person singular present tense of chupar „to suck” (probably of imitative origin) + cabra „goat” (cabras, plural)

#2: Snallygaster

„‚People who say there is no such animal are the ones who need to get right — we are not,’ he stated emphatically today. ‚I saw the snallygaster,’ he repeated, ‚and I saw him change from white to black.'” — The News (Frederick, MD), November 28, 1932

Definition: a mythical nocturnal creature that is reported chiefly from rural Maryland, is reputed to be part reptile and part bird, and is said to prey on poultry and children

#3: Werewolf

„The werewolf was by day a man, but by night a wolf given to ravage and to slaughter, and having a charmed life against which no human agency availed aught.” — Eugene Field, The Werewolf, 1911

Definition: a person transformed temporarily or permanently into a wolf or capable of assuming a wolf’s form: lycanthrope

Are there werewolves where there aren’t wolves?

Lycanthropy, the delusion that you have turned into a wolf or another beast, has some ancient roots, and belief in werewolves can be found around the world. Other dangerous animals — such as bears, tigers, or hyenas — have historically filled the wolf’s role in lycanthropy in countries where wolves are not common.

#4: Hodag

„The rest of the party had commenced piling up birch bark around the brute and thrown a few sticks of dynamite and by this time the fight got pretty hot, as the Hodag had became [sic] so infurated [sic] that he began slashing down the timber which was falling in every direction, and made it dangerous for the now furious hunters, and the black tar coal smoke which the hodag’s breath had turned into, mixed with the sickening odor of the mangled dogs, was beginning to suffocate the now very much excited party.” — The New North (Rhinelander, WI), October 28, 1893

Definition: a mythical animal reported chiefly from Wisconsin and Minnesota, noted for its ugliness, lateral horns, and hooked tail, and reputed to be outstanding in both ferocity and melancholy

#5: Dybbuk

„A dybbuk is the wandering soul of a dead person. You don’t want to make the mistake of inviting one into your home. You don’t have to be Jewish to figure that out.” — Roger Ebert, review of the film A Serious Man, October 7, 2009

Definition: an evil spirit or the wandering soul of a dead person believed in Jewish folklore to enter and control a living body until exorcised by a religious rite

#6: Tommy-knocker

„The ‚graveyard’ shift is the dead of night — usually between 11 p. m. and 3 a. m. — and it is then that the ‚tommy-knockers’ are most often heard.” — Mexico Missouri Message (Mexico, MO), August 23, 1906

Definition: the ghost of a man killed in a mine

Word Origin: Probably from Tommy (nickname for Thomas) + knocker; from his being supposed to be responsible for the creaking of timbers in the mine

#7: Sasquatch

„In the Northwest, the hirsute hominid, who dates to American Indian lore as Sasquatch, is a minor industry.” — Timothy Egan, New York Times, January 3, 2003

Definition: a hairy creature like a human being that is reported to exist in the northwestern U.S. and western Canada and is said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet (1.8 and 4.6 meters) tall — called also bigfoot.

#8: Nix

AKA nicker, nixie

Definition: a supernatural creature originally in Germanic folklore and conceived of in many forms but usually as having the form of a woman or as half human and half fish, dwelling in fresh water usually in a beautiful palace, and usually unfriendly to man

#9: Guytrash

„The Horton ‚Guytrash’ was another boggard in our young days, and generally took the form of a ‚great black dog’ with horrid eyes.” — Edward Peacock, The Folk-lore Journal, January-December, 1886

Definition: a spectre or ghost especially in the form of an animal

#10: Wyvern

„The wyvern is essentially an English beast, and in olden times was much accredited and respected.” Herbert Crest, writing in Collections Historical & Archaeological Relating to Montgomeryshire and its Borders, Vol. 24, 1890

Definition: a fabulous animal usually represented as a 2-legged winged creature resembling a dragon

#11: Cerberus

Definition: a three-headed dog that in Greek mythology guards the entrance to Hades

About the Word: Cerberus, the monstrous watchdog of the underworld devoured anyone who tried to escape the kingdom of Hades, the lord of the underworld, and he refused entrance to living humans.

This gave rise to the English phrase „a sop to Cerberus” meaning „a concession or bribe to conciliate a person otherwise liable to be troublesome.” The reference is to a passage in Vergil’s Aeneid, when Aeneas slips by Cerberus, after giving him a sop as distraction.

#12: Windigo

„Although it is ten years since the Wendigo has been observed—when he trudged through the eight-feet deep rapids of the Echoing river, which only reached to his knees — there have been evidences that he still seeks human flesh after his winter’s hibernation.” — The Winnipeg Tribune, January 31, 1947

Definition: a cannibalistic creature of Algonquian mythology believed to have been a lost hunter forced by hunger to eat human flesh and thereafter to have become a crazed man-eating ogre roaming the forest


  • to resemble – to look like or be like someone or something – przypominać, być podobnym do
  • horn – one of the two hard, pointed growths on the heads of cows, goats, and some other animals – róg
  • fang – a long, sharp tooth of an animal such as a dog or a snake – kieł, ząb jadowy
  • livestock – animals that are kept on a farm – żywy inwentarz
  • nocturnal – nocturnal animals and birds are active at night – nocny
  • chiefly – mainly – głównie
  • prey – an animal that is hunted and killed by another animal – zdobycz, ofiara
  • avail – without success, especially after a lot of effort – na próżno
  • aught – (old use) anything
  • capable of sth/doing sth – having the ability or qualities to be able to do something – zdolny do czegoś
  • lycanthrope – werewolf (from the Greek)
  • delusion – when someone believes something that is not true – złudzenie
  • to commence – to begin something – rozpoczynać
  • pile up – if something unpleasant piles up, you get more of it – zbierać się, narastać
  • birch – a tree that has thin, smooth branches – brzoza
  • brute – someone who behaves in a very violent and cruel way – brutal
  • to slash – to cut something by making a quick, long cut with something very sharp – podciąć, ciąć
  • tar – a thick, black substance that is sticky when hot and is used to cover roads – smoła
  • mangled – badly crushed and damaged – zmasakrowany
  • to suffocate – to die because you cannot breathe or to kill someone by stopping them from breathing – udusić (się)
  • lateral – relating to the sides of an object or plant or to sideways movement – boczny, poprzeczny, lateralny
  • hooked – shaped like a hook – zakrzywiony, haczykowaty
  • ferocity – extreme violence or force – zawziętość
  • to wander – to walk slowly about a place without any purpose – snuć się (po), wałęsać się (po)
  • rite – a traditional ceremony in a particular religion or culture – obrządek, rytuał
  • to creak – if something such as a door or a piece of wood creaks, it makes a long noise when it moves – skrzypieć
  • hirsute – having a lot of hair, especially on the face or body – włochaty, kudłaty
  • hominid – a member of a group that consists of humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orang-utangs, or an early form of one of these – małpolud, przedstawiciel człekowatych
  • lore – traditional knowledge and stories about a subject – tradycje i wierzenia w określonym temacie; wiedza wynikająca z doświadczenia, edukacji lub przekazów
  • AKA – also known as: used when giving the name that a person is generally known by, after giving their real name – alias, vel, znany także jako
  • to conceive – to be able to imagine something – wyobrażać sobie
  • to dwell in/among/with – mieszkać w/pośród/z
  • boggard – (archaic) a ghost or goblin – duch lub goblin
  • horrid – unpleasant or unkind – paskudny
  • spectre – a ghost (= dead person’s spirit) – upiór, widmo
  • to devour – to eat something quickly because you are very hungry – pożerać
  • sop – something of little importance or value that is offered to stop complaints or unhappiness
  • concession – something that you agree to do or give to someone in order to end an argument – ustępstwo
  • to conciliate – to end a disagreement or someone’s anger by acting in a friendly way or slightly changing your opinions, or to satisfy someone who disagrees with you by acting in this way – udobruchać, ugłaskać
  • be liable to do sth – to be likely to do something – móc cos zrobić
  • Vergil’s Aeneid – Eneida – poemat skomponowany przez Wergiliusza
  • slip – to go somewhere quietly or quickly – prześlizgnąc się, przemknąć
  • distraction – something that makes you stop giving your attention to something else – zakłucenie, rozpraszanie, oderwanie
  • trudge along/through/up – to walk slowly with heavy steps, especially because you are tired – wlec się wzdłuż/przez/w górę
  • rapids – a part of a river where the water moves very fast – bystrza, bystrzyca
  • Echoing River – link
  • flesh – the soft part of a person’s or animal’s body between the skin and bones – ciało, mięso
  • Algonquian people – Algonkinowie
  • to roam – to move around a place without any purpose – włóczyć się (po), wałęsać się (po)


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