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[vam-pahyuh r] /ˈvæm paɪər/
a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.
(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.
a person who preys ruthlessly upon others; extortionist.
a woman who unscrupulously exploits, ruins, or degrades the men she seduces.
an actress noted for her roles as an unscrupulous seductress:
the vampires of the silent movies.
Origin of vampire
1725-35; (< F) < German Vampir < Serbo-Croatian vàmpīr, alteration of earlier upir (by confusion with doublets such as vȁzdūh, ȕzdūh air (< Slavic vŭ-), and with intrusive nasal, as in dùbrava, dumbrȁva grove); akin to Czech upír, Polish upiór, Old Russian upyrĭ, upirĭ, (Russian upýrʾ) < Slavic *u-pirĭ or *ǫ-pirĭ, probably a deverbal compound with *per- fly, rush (literal meaning variously interpreted)
Related forms
[vam-pir-ik] /væmˈpɪr ɪk/ (Show IPA),
[vam-pahyuh r-ish] /ˈvæm paɪər ɪʃ/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for vampires
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My first and principal object was to discourse of the vampires of Hungary.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • Such are nearly the contents of the work of M. Herenberg on vampires.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • Thence the wakefulness, dreams, and pretended apparitions of vampires.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • The vampires of which we are discoursing are very different from all those just mentioned.

    The Phantom World Augustin Calmet
  • The footnotes relating to vampires (pp. 323-4) reference modern Greek.

    Russian Fairy Tales W. R. S. Ralston
British Dictionary definitions for vampires


(in European folklore) a corpse that rises nightly from its grave to drink the blood of the living
a person who preys mercilessly upon others, such as a blackmailer
See vamp1 (sense 1)
(theatre) a trapdoor on a stage
Derived Forms
vampiric (væmˈpɪrɪk), vampirish, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from French, from German Vampir, from Magyar; perhaps related to Turkish uber witch, Russian upyr vampire
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
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Word Origin and History for vampires



1734, from French vampire or German Vampir (1732, in an account of Hungarian vampires), from Hungarian vampir, from Old Church Slavonic opiri (cf. Serbian vampir, Bulgarian vapir, Ukrainian uper), said by Slavic linguist Franc Miklošič to be ultimtely from Kazan Tatar ubyr "witch," but Max Vasmer, an expert in this linguistic area, finds that phonetically doubtful. An Eastern European creature popularized in English by late 19c. gothic novels, however there are scattered English accounts of night-walking, blood-gorged, plague-spreading undead corpses from as far back as 1196. Applied 1774 by French biologist Buffon to a species of South American blood-sucking bat.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vampires in Culture

vampires definition

Originally part of central European folklore, they now appear in horror stories as living corpses who need to feed on human blood. A vampire will leave his coffin at night, disguised as a great bat, to seek his innocent victims, bite their necks with his long, sharp teeth, and suck their blood.

Note: The most famous vampire is Count Dracula, from the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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