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A warlock is a male practitioner of magic (compare wizard, sorcerer).[1] The most commonly accepted etymology derives warlock from the Old English wǣrloga meaning "oathbreaker" or "deceiver".[2] In early modern Scots, the word came to be used as the male equivalent of witch (which can be male or female, but is used predominantly for females).[3][4][5] From this use, the word passed into Romantic literature and ultimately 20th-century popular culture. A derivation from the Old Norse varð-lokkur, "caller of spirits", has also been suggested,[6][7][8] but the OED considers this implausible due to the extreme rarity of the Norse word and because forms without hard -k, which are consistent with the Old English etymology (“traitor”), are attested earlier than forms with a -k.[9]

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  1. ^ "Definition of warlock". English Oxford Living Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  2. ^ "Warlock". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 1989. (Registration required (help)).
  3. ^ McNeill, F. Marian (1957). The Silver Bough: A Four Volume Study of the National and Local Festivals of Scotland. 1. Glasgow: William Maclellan.
  4. ^ Chambers, Robert (1861). Domestic Annals of Scotland. Edinburgh.
  5. ^ Sinclair, George (1871). Satan's Invisible World Discovered. Edinburgh.
  6. ^ Cleasby, R.; Vigfusson, G. (1874). An Icelandic-English Dictionary. London: Macmillan.
  7. ^ Olsen, M. (1916). Maal Og Minne. Oslo: Bymalslaget.
  8. ^ Loewe, M.; Blacker, C. (1981). Oracles and Divination. London: George Allen & Unwin. p. 130. 'Vardlokkur'...is related to the Scots dialect word 'warlock', wizard, and the meaning is thought to relate to the power to shut in or enclose"
  9. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, (online) 2nd Edition (1989): "ON. varðlokkur wk. fem. pl. ... incantation, suggested already in Johnson, is too rare (? occurring once), with regard to the late appearance of the -k forms, to be considered."