1(in Germanic mythology) a member of a Scandinavian race of dwarfs, owners of a hoard of gold and magic treasures, who were ruled by Nibelung, king of Nibelheim (land of mist)
- ‘Das Rheingold tells the story of the stealing of the gold of the Rhine maidens by Alberich, king of the Nibelungs, and the forging and theft (by Wotan) of the magic ring.’
- ‘This lode gold is the stuff worked by legendary dwellers below the earth, like the dwarf who forged the treasure of the Nibelungs.’
- ‘He uses it to set up a dictatorship over the Nibelung dwarves, who become his slaves, mining ceaselessly for more gold.’
- ‘Here we see Alberich in his new incarnation as the heartless master of Nibelheim, mercilessly sweating his fellow dwarfs, the Nibelungs, in an immense gold factory.’
- ‘One more time, for the more than half-century that he has ruled with an iron fist over his grandfather's heritage, like the dragon of the Ring over the Nibelung's gold.’
2(in the Nibelungenlied) a supporter of Siegfried or one of the Burgundians who stole the hoard from him.
- ‘Hagen told Gunther how Siegfried won treasure from the Nibelungs, two brothers and mighty princes named Schilbung and Nibelung.’
- ‘The original oral story of Munding Laya is similar - or at least has a similar spirit - to Beowulf in old English literature or Siegfried and The Knights of Nibelungen of Germany.’
From Old High German, from nibel mist + the patronymic ending -ung.