AskDefine | Define ogre

Dictionary Definition



1 a cruel wicked and inhuman person [syn: monster, fiend, devil, demon]
2 (folklore) a giant who likes to eat human beings

User Contributed Dictionary

see Ogre



Circa 18th Century, from French, from Latin Orcus, god of the infernal regions.


  • IPA: /ˈo.ɡɝ/
  • Schoolbook Phonetics: (ōʹgûr)
  • Last Resort Phonetics: OH-gur
    Rhymes: -əʊɡə(r)


  1. In folk tales, one of a class of brutish giants that eat human flesh.
  2. A large beast


brutish giant
large beast

Related terms

Extensive Definition

An ogre (feminine: ogress) is a large, cruel and hideous humanoid monster. Ogres are often depicted in fairy tales and folklore as feeding on human beings, and have appeared in many classic works of literature. In art, ogres are often depicted with a large head, abundant hair and beard, a huge belly, and a strong body. The term is often applied in a metaphorical sense to disgusting persons who exploit, brutalize or devour their victims.


The word ogre is of French derivation, and is believed to have been coined by either Charles Perrault (1628-1703) or Marie-Catherine Jumelle de Berneville, Comtesse d' Aulnoy (1650-1705), both of whom were French authors. Other sources say that the name is derived from the word Hongrois, which means Hungarian. The word ogre is thought to have been inspired by the works of Italian author Giambattista Basile (1575-1632), who used the Neapolitan word uerco, or in standard Italian, orco. This word is documented in earlier Italian works (Fazio degli Uberti, XIV cent.; Luigi Pulci, XV; Ludovico Ariosto, XV-XVI) and has even older cognates with the Latin orcus and the Old English orcnēas found in Beowulf lines 112-113, which inspired J.R.R. Tolkien's Orc. All these words may derive from a shared Indo-European mythological concept (as Tolkien himself speculated, as cited by Tom Shippey, The Road to Middle-earth, 45).
The first appearance of the word ogre in Perrault's work occurred in his Histoires ou Contes du temps Passé (1697). It later appeared in several of his other fairy tales, many of which were based on the Neapolitan tales of Basile. The first example of a female ogre being referred to as an ogress is found in his version of Sleeping Beauty, where it is spelled ogresse.. The Comtesse d' Aulnoy first employed the word ogre in her story L'Orangier et l' Abeille (1698), and was the first to use the word ogree to refer to the creature's offspring.

Ogres in modern fiction

Literature for children is rife with tales involving ogres and kidnapped princesses who were rescued by valiant knights, and sometimes peasants. Ogres are also popular in fantasy fiction, such as C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, and in various fantasy games.
  • The protagonist of the Shrek films is an ogre. Shrek is voiced by Mike Myers, using a cartoonish Scottish accent. Shrek is not a hostile ogre. He is not a villain, but an ogre that lives in a swamp and prefers not to be disturbed.
  • In Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, there is an army of villainous ogres residing in Castle Drekmore and led by Duke Igthorn, who attempt to conquer King Gregor and Dunwyn Castle.
  • In the movie Time Bandits, the protagonists are found by an ogre and his wife on the ogre's ship. The ogre is outwitted and left at sea after the protagonists commandeer the ship.
  • In the Xanth Chronicles by Piers Anthony, ogres are stupid beasts with immense strength that communicate almost exclusively through rhyme as in the Chronicle Ogre, Ogre. At several points in A Spell for Chameleon, the first Xanth novel, the lead character worries that the women he encounters are actually female ogres in human form.
  • In the Spiderwick Chronicles (the fifth book), Mulgarath, the primary antagonist, is an evil ogre who wants to enslave the world, ridding it of all humans.
  • In Tamora Pierce's books that revolve around Tortall, there are two kinds of ogres: peaceful farmers and warlike monsters. Both types are extremely tall and often seem menacing. In her book Wolf-Speaker, the peaceful "breed" are slaves who mine black opals.
  • A Book of Ogres and Trolls by Ruth Manning-Sanders contains 13 fairy tales.
Ogre is often used metaphorically, as in the association of ogres with Nazis made in Michel Tournier's novel Le Roi des aulnes (1970; The Ogre). Other modern works depicting ogres include L'Ogre (1973) by Jacques Chessex, and Nacer Khemir's L'Ogresse (1975), a collection of Tunisian tales.

Ogres in modern games

See also


  • Rose, Carol. Giants, Monsters, & Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. ISBN 0-393-32211-4
  • Shippey, Tom. The Road to Middle-earth. London: HarperCollins, 1992 (rev.). ISBN 0-261-10275-3
  • South, Malcom, ed. Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Source Book and Research Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987. Reprint, New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1988. ISBN 0-87226-208-1
  • "Ogre." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 15 May 2006


ogre in Bulgarian: Огре
ogre in Catalan: Ogre
ogre in Czech: Zlobr
ogre in German: Oger
ogre in Spanish: Ogro
ogre in French: Ogre
ogre in Korean: 오거
ogre in Italian: Orco (folclore)
ogre in Hebrew: עוג (פנטזיה)
ogre in Hungarian: Ogre
ogre in Dutch: Oger (folklore)
ogre in Japanese: オーガ
ogre in Polish: Ogr
ogre in Portuguese: Ogro
ogre in Russian: Огры
ogre in Serbian: Огр
ogre in Finnish: Jätti

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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