Apotropaic

December 15, 2008

Apotropaic – adj. supposedly having the power to avert evil or bad luck.

amuletsSome terms related to today’s word include apotrope, which refer to objects like amulets or talismans meant to ward off evil, apotropaic magic, which can be thought of as any sort of ritual meant to ward off evil and, the one that I find most interesting, apotropaic names.  Apotropaic names are, as you’ve probably figured out, names meant to ward off evil.  The thing with apotropaic names is that to ward off evil they have to be unattractive to demons and other evil forces.  In some cultures this leads to names like “garlic” or “hippopotamus”, but an apotropaic name could even be something like “ugly” or “stupid” if the parents thought that would keep the evil away.

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One Response to “Apotropaic”

  1. greys said

    I have never thought about naming children in that way. Quite interesting. There’s the history of people having surnames that describes their trade or character. Like ‘Quick’ or even ‘Hero’ in Sweden where I come from.

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