The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

A vampire is a being from folklore that subsists by feeding on the vital force (generally in the form of blood) of the living. In European folklore, vampires were undead beings that often visited loved ones and caused mischief or deaths in the neighborhoods they inhabited while they were alive. They wore shrouds and were often described as bloated and of ruddy or dark countenance, markedly different from today's gaunt, pale vampire which dates from the early 19th century.

Vampiric entities have been recorded in most cultures; the term vampire was popularised in Western Europe after reports of an 18th century mass hysteria of a pre-existing folk belief in the Balkans and Eastern Europe that in some cases resulted in corpses being staked and people being accused of vampirism.[1] Local variants in Eastern Europe were also known by different names, such as shtriga in Albania, vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania.

In modern times, the vampire is generally held to be a fictitious entity, although belief in similar vampiric creatures such as the chupacabra still persists in some cultures. Early folk belief in vampires has sometimes been ascribed to the ignorance of the body's process of decomposition after death and how people in pre-industrial societies tried to rationalise this, creating the figure of the vampire to explain the mysteries of death. Porphyria was linked with legends of vampirism in 1985 and received much media exposure, but has since been largely discredited.[2][3]

The charismatic and sophisticated vampire of modern fiction was born in 1819 with the publication of "The Vampyre" by John Polidori; the story was highly successful and arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century.[4] Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and provided the basis of the modern vampire legend, even though it was published after Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 novel Carmilla. The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, television shows, and video games. The vampire has since become a dominant figure in the horror genre.


The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of the English word vampire (as vampyre) in English from 1734, in a travelogue titled Travels of Three English Gentlemen published in The Harleian Miscellany in 1745.[5] Vampires had already been discussed in French[6] and German literature.[7] After Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia with the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, officials noted the local practice of exhuming bodies and "killing vampires".[7] These reports, prepared between 1725 and 1732, received widespread publicity.[7] The English term was derived (possibly via French vampyre) from the German Vampir, in turn derived in the early 18th century from the Serbian vampir (Serbian Cyrillic: вампир).[8][9][10][11]

The Serbian form has parallels in virtually all Slavic languages: Bulgarian and Macedonian вампир (vampir), Bosnian: vampir / вампир, Croatian vampir, Czech and Slovak upír, Polish wąpierz, and (perhaps East Slavic-influenced) upiór, Ukrainian упир (upyr), Russian упырь (upyr'), Belarusian упыр (upyr), from Old East Slavic упирь (upir') (many of these languages have also borrowed forms such as "vampir/wampir" subsequently from the West; these are distinct from the original local words for the creature). The exact etymology is unclear.[12] Among the proposed proto-Slavic forms are *ǫpyrь and *ǫpirь.[13]

Another less widespread theory is that the Slavic languages have borrowed the word from a Turkic term for "witch" (e.g., Tatar ubyr).[13][14] Czech linguist Václav Machek proposes Slovak verb "vrepiť sa" (stick to, thrust into), or its hypothetical anagram "vperiť sa" (in Czech, the archaic verb "vpeřit" means "to thrust violently") as an etymological background, and thus translates "upír" as "someone who thrusts, bites".[15] An early use of the Old Russian word is in the anti-pagan treatise "Word of Saint Grigoriy" (Russian Слово святого Григория), dated variously to the 11th–13th centuries, where pagan worship of upyri is reported.[16][17]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Vampier
Аҧсшәа: Ахәарҭлаӷь
العربية: مصاص دماء
armãneashti: Vurcolacu
asturianu: Vampiru
azərbaycanca: Vampir
беларуская: Вампір
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Вампір
български: Вампир
བོད་ཡིག: Vampire
bosanski: Vampir
brezhoneg: Suner-gwad
català: Vampir
čeština: Upír (nemrtvý)
Cymraeg: Fampir
dansk: Vampyr
Deutsch: Vampir
eesti: Vampiir
español: Vampiro
Esperanto: Vampiro
euskara: Banpiro
فارسی: خون‌آشام
français: Vampire
Frysk: Fampier
Gaeilge: Súmaire fola
Gàidhlig: Bhampair
galego: Vampiro
한국어: 흡혈귀
հայերեն: Վամպիր
हिन्दी: पिशाच
hrvatski: Vampir
Bahasa Indonesia: Vampir
íslenska: Vampíra
italiano: Vampiro
עברית: ערפד
ქართული: ვამპირი
Latina: Vampyrus
latviešu: Vampīrs
Lëtzebuergesch: Vampir
lietuvių: Vampyras
Lingua Franca Nova: Vampir
magyar: Vámpír
македонски: Вампир
മലയാളം: രക്തരക്ഷസ്
Bahasa Melayu: Vampir
नेपाली: भ्याम्पायर
日本語: 吸血鬼
norsk: Vampyr
norsk nynorsk: Vampyr
occitan: Vampire
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Vampirlar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪਿਸ਼ਾਚ
polski: Wampir
português: Vampiro
русский: Вампир
Scots: Vampire
shqip: Vampir
Simple English: Vampire
slovenčina: Upír (bytosť)
slovenščina: Vampir
کوردی: خوێنمژ
српски / srpski: Вампир
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Vampir
suomi: Vampyyri
svenska: Vampyr
Tagalog: Bampira
தமிழ்: வாம்பைர்
Türkçe: Vampir
українська: Вампір
اردو: خون آشام
Tiếng Việt: Ma cà rồng
Winaray: Bampira
中文: 吸血鬼