Werewolves page 2
Another ancient term for shapeshifting between any animal forms is versipellis, from which the English words turnskin and turncoat are derived. This Latin word is similar in meaning as words used for werewolves and other shapeshifters in Russian (oboroten) and Old Norse (hamrammr).
The French name for a werewolf, sometimes used in English, is loup-garou, from the Latin noun lupus meaning wolf. The second element is thought to be from Old French garoul meaning "werewolf." This in turn is most likely from Frankish *wer-wulf meaning "man-wolf."
Description and common attributes
Werewolves were said to bear tell-tale traits in European folklore. These included the meeting of both eyebrows at the bridge of the nose, curved fingernails, low set ears and a swinging stride. One method of identifying a werewolf in its human form was to cut the flesh of the accused, under the pretense that fur would be seen within the wound. A Russian superstition recalls a werewolf can be recognised by bristles under the tongue. The appearance of a werewolf in its animal form varies from culture to culture, though they are most commonly portrayed as being indistinguishable from ordinary wolves save for the fact that they have no tail (a trait thought characteristic of witches in animal form), and that they retain human eyes and voice. After returning to their human forms, werewolves are usually documented as becoming weak, debilitated and undergoing painful nervous depression. Many historical werewolves were written to have suffered severe melancholia and manic depression, being bitterly conscious of their crimes. One universally reviled trait in medieval Europe was the werewolf's habit of devouring recently buried corpses, a trait which is documented extensively, particularly in the Annales Medico-psychologiques in the 19th century. Fennoscandian werewolves were usually old women who possessed poison coated claws and had the ability to paralyse cattle and children with their gaze. Serbian vulkodlaks traditionally had the habit of congregating annually in the winter months, where they would strip off their wolf skins and hang them from trees. They would then get a hold of another vulkodlaks skin and burn it, releasing the vulkodlak from whom the skin came from its curse. The Haitian jé-rouges typically try to trick mothers into giving away their children voluntarily by waking them at night and asking their permission to take their child, to which the disoriented mother may either reply yes or no.