- a spirit or personified natural power that works mischief, especially to children.
Origin of erlking
1790–1800; < German Erlkönig alder (tree) king, J. G. von Herder's mistrans. of Danish ellerkonge, variant of elverkonge king of the elves
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for erlking
Herr Schubert puffed and blew, and "The Erlking" pranced and thumped.Unfinished Portraits
They found the composer all aglow, reading the “Erlking” aloud to himself.How to Appreciate Music
But in the boy's brain the Erlking has already raised his enticing whisper.
In the heat of fever the boy implores his father to look for the Erlking's daughters.
Erlking has now completely filled the feverish fancy of the child.
- German myth a malevolent spirit who carries children off to death
C18: from German Erlkönig, literally: alder king, coined in 1778 by Herder, a mistranslation of Danish ellerkonge king of the elves
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012