vampire

vampiric /vam pir"ik/, vampirish /vam"puyeur ish/, adj.
/vam"puyeur/, n.
1. a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.
2. (in Eastern European folklore) a corpse, animated by an undeparted soul or demon, that periodically leaves the grave and disturbs the living, until it is exhumed and impaled or burned.
3. a person who preys ruthlessly upon others; extortionist.
4. a woman who unscrupulously exploits, ruins, or degrades the men she seduces.
5. an actress noted for her roles as an unscrupulous seductress: the vampires of the silent movies.
[1725-35; ( < F) < G Vampir < Serbo-Croatian vàmpir, alter. of earlier upir (by confusion with doublets such as vàzduh, ùzduh air ( < Slavic vu-), and with intrusive nasal, as in dùbrava, dumbràva grove); akin to Czech upír, Pol upiór, ORuss upyri, upiri, (Russ upýr') < Slavic *u-piri or *o-piri, prob. a deverbal compound with *per- fly, rush (literal meaning variously interpreted)]

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In popular legend, a bloodsucking creature that rises from its burial place at night, sometimes in the form of a bat, to drink the blood of humans.

By daybreak it must return to its grave or to a coffin filled with its native earth. Tales of vampires are part of the world's folklore, most notably in Hungary and the Balkan Peninsula. The disinterment in Serbia in 1725 and 1732 of several fluid-filled corpses that villagers claimed were behind a plague of vampirism led to widespread interest and imaginative treatment of vampirism throughout western Europe. Vampires are supposedly dead humans (originally suicides, heretics, or criminals) who maintain a kind of life by biting the necks of living humans and sucking their blood; their victims also become vampires after death. These "undead" creatures cast no shadow and are not reflected in mirrors. They can be warded off by crucifixes or wreaths of garlic and can be killed by exposure to the sun or by an oak stake driven through the heart. The most famous vampire is Count Dracula from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897).

Bela Lugosi with Frances Dade in Dracula (1931).

By courtesy of Universal Pictures; photograph, The Bettmann Archive

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▪ folk legend
 in popular legend, a bloodsucking creature, supposedly the restless soul of a heretic, criminal, or suicide, that leaves its burial place at night, often in the form of a bat, to drink the blood of humans. By daybreak it must return to its grave or to a coffin filled with its native earth. Its victims become vampires after death. Although the belief in vampires was widespread over Asia and Europe, it was primarily a Slavic and Hungarian legend, with reports proliferating in Hungary from 1730 to 1735.

      Among the various demons of ancient folk tradition, the vampire has enjoyed the most conspicuous and continual literary success in the 20th century, owing initially to the popularity of the gothic novel Dracula (1897) by the Irish author Bram Stoker (Stoker, Bram). Count Dracula, its “undead” villain from Transylvania, became the representative type of vampire. The novel, a play (1927), and a popular series of films made vampire lore common currency. Tod Browning's classic film Dracula (1931), starring Bela Lugosi (Lugosi, Bela), set the pattern for dozens of vampire movies. In the late 20th century, the best-selling vampire novels of American writer Anne Rice sparked a revival of vampire-themed movies and television shows.

      Typically the vampire had a pallid face, staring eyes, and protruding incisor teeth and fed by biting and sucking blood from the victim's throat. Methods for recognizing vampires (they cast no shadow and are not reflected in mirrors) and for warding them off (by displaying a crucifix or sleeping with a wreath of garlic around one's neck) are known to every schoolchild. Vampires can be put to final rest by driving a stake through their hearts, by burning them, or by destroying their daytime resting places.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • vampire — [ vɑ̃pir ] n. m. • 1738; all. Vampir, du serbe 1 ♦ Fantôme sortant la nuit de son tombeau pour aller sucer le sang des vivants. ⇒ goule, strige . 2 ♦ Fig. (1756) Vieilli Suceur de sang, homme avide d argent. « Hors du trône, tyrans ! à la tombe,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Vampire — Vam pire, n. [F. vampire (cf. It. vampiro, G. & D. vampir), fr. Servian vampir.] [Written also {vampyre}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A blood sucking ghost; a soul of a dead person superstitiously believed to come from the grave and wander about by night… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • vampire — (n.) 1734, from Fr. vampire or Ger. Vampir (1732, in an account of Hungarian vampires), from Hung. vampir, from O.C.S. opiri (Cf. Serb. vampir, Bulg. vapir, Ukrainian uper), said by Slavic linguist Franc MikloЕЎiДЌ to be ultimtely from Kazan… …   Etymology dictionary

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