A ghoul is a folkloric monster or evil spirit associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, often classified as undead. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights. The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novel Vathek, which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore.
By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger or graverobber.
In Arabian folklore
A ghoul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, then taking the form of the person most recently eaten.
In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghouleh and the plural is ghilan . In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual.
Ghouls in popular culture
- "The Story of Sidi-Nouman". Retrieved 2012-07-05.
- "Ghoul Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Ghoul". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". Etymonline.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- Cramer, Marc (1979). The Devil Within. W.H. Allen. ISBN 978-0-491-02366-5.
- "Cultural Analysis, Volume 8, 2009: The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture / Ahmed Al-Rawi". Socrates.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- "ghoul". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved January 22, 2006.
- "ghoul". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 22, 2006.
- *Muhawi, Ibrahim, and Sharif Kanaana (1988). Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Garfinkle, Robert A (1997-04-13). Star-Hopping: Your Visa to Viewing the Universe. p. 215. ISBN 9780521598897.