Werewolves, also known as man-wolves, wolf men, or lycanthropes, are common figures in folklore and fantasy fiction that are able to transform from a human being into either a wolf or a human/wolf hybrid creature.
The world "werewolf" comes from the Old English word "werwulf", which means "man wolf". The clinical term for the condition is "lycanthropy". Werewolf legends became widespread during the Middle Ages in Europe, though there are instances of man-wolf hybrids mentioned in Ancient Greek and Roman texts.
Werewolf legends vary in terms of common characteristics; sometimes the transformation is permanent, other times it is temporary. In some cases, transformation is triggered by donning a belt of wolf skin, or drinking water from the footprint of a wolf. In most cases, an individual in wolf form possesses immense strength and speed, as well as enhanced reflexes and other senses. In their transformed state, they are depicted as regular wolves, abnormally large worlves, or a humanoid wolf-like creature.
By far the most well-known werewolf myth presents the afflicted changing into a wolf creature during the full moon, and reverting back to human form with the rising sun, often with no memory of the terrifying acts they may have committed during the previous night. The curse of the werewolf is usually said to pass to another through a werewolf bite. The condition may also be passed from parent to child as a hereditary condition.
Various legends have different ways of "curing" the werewolf malady, though these remedies do not always result in the survival of the patient. The Ancient Greeks believed werewolves needed to exhaust themselves through intense physical activity, while medieval remedies involved wolfsbane or exorcism.
Werewolves are often depicted as being vulnerable to silver, sometimes in the form of silver bullets, and other times with an aversion to touching any silver objects. Werewolves often cannot be harmed by other traditional weapons.
In some Asian cultures, the equivalent of the werewolf is the were-tiger or were-leopard. Irish and Scottish cultures have their own version of the myth that involves humans that can shapeshift into seals.