One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in Germanic mythology) a bearded giant or goblin believed to lure little children to the land of death.
- ‘Who is the shadowy Erlking?’
- ‘Erlkings often exercise a fatal influence, especially on children by means of alluring promises or visions that led to destruction.’
Late 18th century: from German Erlkönig ‘alder-king’, a mistranslation of Danish ellerkonge ‘king of the elves’.
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