Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

vampire

[vam-pahyuh r]
See more synonyms for vampire on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.
  2. (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.
  3. a person who preys ruthlessly upon others; extortionist.
  4. a woman who unscrupulously exploits, ruins, or degrades the men she seduces.
  5. an actress noted for her roles as an unscrupulous seductress: the vampires of the silent movies.
Show More

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 formsvam·pir·ic [vam-pir-ik] /væmˈpɪr ɪk/, vam·pir·ish [vam-pahyuh r-ish] /ˈvæm paɪər ɪʃ/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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

  • Thence the wakefulness, dreams, and pretended apparitions of vampires.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • Such are nearly the contents of the work of M. Herenberg on 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

vampire

noun
  1. (in European folklore) a corpse that rises nightly from its grave to drink the blood of the living
  2. See vampire bat
  3. a person who preys mercilessly upon others, such as a blackmailer
  4. See vamp 1 (def. 1)
  5. theatre a trapdoor on a stage
Show More
Derived Formsvampiric (væmˈpɪrɪk) or 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

Word Origin and History for vampires

vampire

n.

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vampires in Culture

vampires

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.

Show More

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.