Were

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For other uses, see Were (disambiguation).
For the Ohio radio station, see WERE.

Were and wer are archaic terms for adult male humans and were often used for alliteration with wife as "were and wife" in Germanic-speaking cultures (Old English: were, German: Wehr, Dutch: weer, Gothic: waír, Old Frisian: wer, Old Saxon: wer, Old High German: wer, Old Norse: verr).

In folklore and fantasy fiction, were- is often used as a prefix applied to an animal name to indicate a type of lycanthropy and/or shapeshifter (e.g. "were-boar"). Hyphenation used to be mandatory but is now commonly dropped, as in werecat and wererat. This usage can be seen as a back-formation from werewolf (literally, "man-wolf"), as there is no equivalent wifewolf.

Gothic has a word translating kosmos, not derived from the same stem: faírhvus, used by Ulfilas in alternation with manasêþs. The corresponding West Germanic term is werold "world", literally wer "man" + ald "age". Gothic faírhvus is cognate to Old High German fërah, Old English feorh, terms expressing "lifetime" (aevum).[1]

The word has cognates in various other languages, for example, the words vir (as in virility) and fear (plural fir as in Fir Bolg) are the Latin and Gaelic for a male human.

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