late 14c., used of several diseases that cause ulcerations of the skin, from Medieval Latin lupus, from Latin lupus "wolf" (see wolf (n.)), apparently because it "devours" the affected part. As the name of a southern constellation representing a wolf, by 1706.
Entries linking to lupus
Old English wulf "wolf, wolfish person, devil," from Proto-Germanic *wulfaz (source also of Old Saxon wulf, Old Norse ulfr, Old Frisian, Dutch, Old High German, German wolf, Gothic wulfs), from PIE root *wlkwo- "wolf" (source also of Sanskrit vrkas, Avestan vehrka-; Albanian ul'k; Old Church Slavonic vluku; Russian volcica; Lithuanian vilkas "wolf;" Old Persian Varkana- "Hyrcania," district southeast of the Caspian Sea, literally "wolf-land;" probably also Greek lykos, Latin lupus).
This manne can litle skyl ... to saue himself harmlesse from the perilous accidentes of this world, keping ye wulf from the doore (as they cal it). ["The Institution of a Gentleman," 1555]
Probably extinct in England from the end of the 15th century; in Scotland from the early 18th. Wolves as a symbol of lust are ancient, such as Roman slang lupa "whore," literally "she-wolf" (preserved in Spanish loba, Italian lupa, French louve). The equation of "wolf" and "prostitute, sexually voracious female" persisted into 12c., but by Elizabethan times wolves had become primarily symbolic of male lust. The specific use of wolf for "sexually aggressive male" first recorded 1847; wolf-whistle attested by 1945, American English, at first associated with sailors. The image of a wolf in sheep's skin is attested from c. 1400. See here for a discussion of "wolf" in Indo-European history. The wolf-spider so called for prowling and leaping on its prey rather than waiting in a web.
also lupine, flowering plant of the genus Lupinus, late 14c., from Latin lupinus, the name of the plant, a noun use of an adjective meaning "of a wolf," from lupus "wolf" (see wolf (n.)). The reason for the name is unclear; perhaps the plant was so called because of a belief that it was harmful to soil (compare lupus in the "wasting disease" sense), but in modern Europe it was regarded as useful and valued for improving sandy soil. In Portugal it was used to choke out weeds.
updated on September 08, 2016