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For other uses, see Grimalkin (disambiguation).

A grimalkin (also called a greymalkin) is an archaic term for a cat.[1] The term stems from "grey" (the colour) plus "malkin", an archaic term with several meanings (a cat,[not in citation given] a low class woman, a weakling, a mop or a name) derived from a hypocoristic form of the female name Maud.[2] Scottish legend makes reference to the grimalkin as a faery cat that dwells in the highlands.

The term/name may first come from Beware the Cat (published 1570) by William Baldwin. The novel is a story of talking cats, and part of it relates the story of the Grimalkin's death. According to its editors, the story, and thus the name, originates with Baldwin in terms of being the earliest example known in print. It is also spelled Grimmalkin or Grimolochin.[3]

During the early modern period, the name grimalkin – and cats in general – became associated with the devil and witchcraft. Women tried as witches in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were often accused of having a familiar, frequently a grimalkin. A noted example is a familiar of one of the three witches in Macbeth.

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  1. ^ "grimalkin, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, Web. 16 June 2015
  2. ^ "malkin, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2014. Web. 27 October 2014.
  3. ^ Baldwin, William (1570). Beware the Cat: The First English Novel, edited by William A. Ringler, Jr. and Michael Flachmann, Huntington Library Press, ISBN 0-87328-087-3 hardcover (1988), ISBN 0-87328-154-3 softcover (1995)

In the Blazblue game series the character Hakumen is frequently heard calling Kokonoe a grimalkin.

In the The Evolving World series, a character named Grimalkin is the leader of the organization Blackguard. His mask is designed to look like a cat's.

In the Dresden Files series, Grimalkin is a large specimen of an intelligent, talking, and lynx-sized fey cat called a Malk. He directly serves Queen Mab of the unselie court, and appears in the novels A Summer Night and Small Favors.

The British electric folk band Childe Rolande sings a song called Grymalkin, a misspelling of the headword but with the feline meaning.

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