[fohk-lawr, -lohr]
See more synonyms for folklore on
  1. the traditional beliefs, legends, customs, etc., of a people; lore of a people.
  2. the study of such lore.
  3. a body of widely held but false or unsubstantiated beliefs.

Origin of folklore

1846; folk + lore1; coined by English scholar and antiquary William John Thoms (1803–85)
Related formsfolk·lor·ist, nounfolk·lor·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for folklore

Contemporary Examples of folklore

Historical Examples of folklore

British Dictionary definitions for folklore


  1. the unwritten literature of a people as expressed in folk tales, proverbs, riddles, songs, etc
  2. the body of stories and legends attached to a particular place, group, activity, etcHollywood folklore; rugby folklore
  3. the anthropological discipline concerned with the study of folkloric materials
Derived Formsfolkloric, adjectivefolklorist, noun, adjectivefolkloristic, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for folklore

1846, coined by antiquarian William J. Thoms (1803-1885) as an Anglo-Saxonism (replacing popular antiquities) and first published in the "Athenaeum" of Aug. 22, 1846, from folk + lore. Old English folclar meant "homily."

This word revived folk in a modern sense of "of the common people, whose culture is handed down orally," and opened up a flood of compound formations, e.g. folk art (1892), folk-hero (1874), folk-medicine (1877), folk-tale/folk tale (1850; Old English folctalu meant "genealogy"), folk-song (1847), folk singer (1876), folk-dance (1877).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

folklore in Culture


Traditional stories and legends, transmitted orally (rather than in writing) from generation to generation. The stories of Paul Bunyan are examples of American folklore.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.