Geek Etymology – The Lich

Today I bring you yet another post in the Geek Etymology series. This time we will be exploring the origins behind the name of another fantasy creature: the lich! Credit goes to Lilly for the suggestion of this word.

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To start with, what exactly do we consider a lich to be today? It is generally described as an undead creature, usually a human corpse in various states of decay, from zombie-like to completely skeletal. The main distinction between a lich and other undead or zombies is its higher level of intellect and powerful magical abilities. Liches are usually formed from the bodies of powerful mages and sorcerers who use necromancy to cheat death and remain for eternity to continue growing their power and gaining knowledge. Another key feature of liches is that they keep their essence or soul separated from their body in a container, usually referred to as a phylactery. This is often used as a weakness that needs to be sought out by heroes looking to defeat the lich, especially in roleplaying games. . In nearly every fantasy setting in which liches appear, they are evil or at least antagonistic, although there are some exceptions. Continue reading “Geek Etymology – The Lich”

Geek Etymology – Orcs!

Here I am back at it again taking a look at the origins behind some of our favourite geekiest words. Today I’ll be tackling a seemingly straightforward word, and that is ‘orc’. As everybody should know, this is yet another fantasy creature, and should prove to have a relatively simple history behind it, but where does the word actually come from?

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Orcs from LotR: The Two Towers

Before we start, we should first define what an orc actually is. Orcs, sometimes spelled ‘orks’ tend to be brutish and violent, if not evil, humanoid creatures that are generally depicted with somewhat animalistic features such as tusks, snouts, or sometimes with an ape-like appearance. They are popularly depicted as green-skinned but also are sometimes black, grey or brown in colour. They are also commonly seen as large muscular figures, usually much larger than a human, but are also often small and scrawny and akin to a goblin. It can be hard to define their appearance overall, as they are depicted with a very wide range of characteristics, often even within the same piece of fiction.
Continue reading “Geek Etymology – Orcs!”