Lycanthrope vs Werewolf: Key Differences, Origins, and Links to Reality

Your imagination might go wild when you hear stories about monsters and otherworldly creatures under the full moon during the waning days of fall. However, there is some truth to a lot of those myths and lore.

Consider the lycanthrope, for example. This article will show you that lycanthropy is a real condition. Though not quite the same, this creature bears some resemblance to the werewolf. Continue reading to learn about the beginnings of both werewolves and lycanthropes, as well as their main distinctions and connections to reality.

Important Points

A werewolf-like beast or a person with lycanthropy are both referred to as lycanthropes.

The erroneous belief that you are a wolf or another wild animal is known as lycanthropy.

The term “lycans” is frequently used to refer to lycanthropes.

A human who can transform into a wolf while maintaining their human mind and cognitive process is known as a werewolf.

Key Differences Comparison Table

Characteristic Lycan Werewolf
Control They are more self-aware and intelligent. They are less intelligent and more animal-like in nature.
Transformation They can transform at will. They can only transform under a full moon.
Perceptions Around Creature More positive, with religious and spiritual undertones More negative with witchcraft or Satanic undertones
Strength More muscular, and stronger, but can only be killed by decapitation or severing its spine Not as strong, but it takes a silver bullet or silver stake through its heart to kill it
Origins Lycanthropy comes from Greek mythology Roots in old English and European folklore

Lycanthrope vs. Wolf: Differences in Origin


During the Late Middle Ages, witch trials were practiced in European nations that thought witches might curse their families and farms. The “witches” were usually sentenced to death as a result of those trials. They also staged quite similar werewolf trials throughout this time, which resulted in numerous executions.

People thought that in return for their souls, witches and werewolves received powers from the devil. Hundreds of werewolf cases were tried in France between the 14th and 17th centuries for horrific killings and disfigurements, the bulk of which involved women and children. Nicolas Damont, a tailor, admitted of killing, disfiguring, and consuming multiple children in the late 1500s Werewolf of Châlons case. In addition, he asserted that he hunted for the kids while assuming the shape of a wolf.

Although Damont received a death sentence, werewolves have long been suspected of carrying out vicious or serial killings. Indeed, for hundreds of years, people believed that they could become werewolves through the devil, be cursed by someone, or get bitten by a wolf.

Lycanthropes, aka Lycans

The legend of the lycanthrope was first brought to the world by the ancient Greeks. In one myth, a man by the name of Lycaon offered Zeus his own son as a sacrifice. He intended to deceive the god in order to test his ability to distinguish between animal and human flesh. Zeus was furious to learn that he had consumed the flesh of Lycaon’s own son. He transformed Lycaon and his remaining sons into wolves as a form of retribution.

There were more stories of humans transforming into wolves later on in Nordic folklore. The story of a father and his son who discovered mysterious wolf skins in the forest, for instance, is told in the Saga of the Volsungs. The two were able to change into wolves who hunted and killed humans in the neighboring woodland after donning these pelts.

We now know that a large portion of the myths and legends around these concepts originated from an incorrect perception of the psychotic characteristics of serial killers. People found it difficult to accept that the horrific and bizarre killings they saw could have been committed by humans.

Eventually, a large number of the accused admitted to the killings, mutilations, and tortures. But many of them also laid the responsibility at the feet of their own “beast.” Many described feeling like they were being turned into wolves, or even seeing it happen. Psychiatrists eventually named this psychiatric phenomenon “lycanthropy.”

Lycanthrope vs. Werewolf: Difference in Transformations

Many civilizations have stories of people changing from humans to beasts. Stories of skinwalkers, or those who can change into any animal form by just putting on the skin of the animal, are told by numerous Native American tribes. In addition, selkies—beings capable of changing their shape and shedding their skin to become human—were mentioned in Celtic mythology. Stories about lycanthropes and werewolves also center on human metamorphosis.

This metamorphosis has been described verbally and, in more recent years, visually, as a torturous procedure for werewolves. A person undergoing transformation will frequently experience forceful elongation of their bones as their shape changes. For example, the hands and feet get bigger until they become paws, but the features of the face extend into a snout. Most notably, werewolves typically have little control over their metamorphosis and are subject to the phases of the moon.

Lycanthropes, or lycans, are able to change at whim, but werewolves are slaves to the full moon. They are more intellectual than their werewolf counterparts and are hybrids of wolves and humans. The fact that a lycanthrope never entirely transforms into a wolf is one of the main distinctions between them and werewolves. On the other hand, although they retain some human intelligence, werewolves nearly entirely assume the characteristics of wolves.

When it comes to the ultimate change, the appearance of the Lychanthrope and the Werewolf is one of the most noticeable distinctions. The lycanthrope resembles a human-wolf hybrid more than a werewolf, which is exactly like a large wolf in appearance. Rather than having four legs, the lycan will typically stand on two legs and have two arms. I think of the term “wolfman” when I see this image.

Lycanthrope vs. Werewolf: Differences in Strength and Control

While both werewolves and lycanthropes are dangerous creatures to encounter in a dark alley, one is more powerful than the other. What are the differences in strength between a werewolf and a lycanthrope, despite the fact that both are plainly faster and stronger than humans?

Generally speaking, lycans are smarter, stronger, and more physically built. Lycans are able to combine the power and intellect of both their human and wolf sides, while werewolves maintain less of their human nature. They now have power and the knowledge of how to utilize it, thanks to this.

There are some distinctions between murdering a werewolf and a lycanthrope. One way to quickly dispatch a werewolf is by using a silver bullet or another silver weapon. Conversely, silver has no effect on lycanthropes. Even though a lycan’s silver-induced wound could take a while to heal, it can only be killed by beheading or total spinal amputation.

Lycanthrope vs. Werewolf: Differences in Perceptions of the Two

The wolf is typically associated with negative connotations when one revisits historical folktales and legends. This dates back to a period when these predators could cause farmers to lose a significant portion of their income by preying on their cattle, leaving them even more vulnerable. Some societies even held the view that wolves were the property of the devil.

Werewolves have also been depicted as wicked in folklore, which is a reflection of this notion about wolves. Many people thought that their power, or curse, had come from the devil. On the other hand, werewolves have frequently been portrayed in movies as people who were bitten by another werewolf and so carried the curse. They might have been unintentional, innocent victims.

However, lycanthropes are frequently perceived as being deeply religious. They also don’t kill with the same rapacious abandon as werewolves. Their intentions and thoughts seem to be more influenced by their human nature. For power-related motivations, they frequently perpetrate their kind’s bloodbath.

In summary

Werewolves and lycanthropes originate from mythology and folklore. But a lot of people have been wrongly classified as one of these monsters in the past. Hypertrichosis patients grow hair excessively, leading to the misconception that they are werewolves.

Furthermore, those with lycanthropy thought of themselves as lycanthropes or werewolves, while those with porphyria or the aftereffects of rabies were also thought to be lycanthropes or werewolves. Many people would still contend that these monsters actually exist in the modern era.