Novels about werewolves come with more than just a peek into a fantasy world of human-wolf shapeshifters. They also include a host of specific words to describe life as a werewolf. If you’re new to the genre and other werewolf subgenres, you might be unfamiliar with some terms. Never fear; from mythology to romance, we’re here to sort it out for you. Also, to make sure everything is in one place, we’ve included some terms from obscure or loosely affiliated genres.
Alpha – the dominant wolf in the pack hierarchy. They are physically strongest of the werewolf designations with higher instincts and command over the others within their pack.
Bark – a supernatural tone added to an alpha command that demands obedience from those it’s used on. Omegas and betas cannot physically disobey an alpha bark.
Beta – the second in command to an alpha. This designation is also the backbone of the pack; they are the most populous of the werewolf designations. For some genres, this is a turned werewolf who was once entirely human.
Cub/Pup – a child werewolf. It is also a term of endearment / or a slight to a young adult wolf by an older, more experienced werewolf.
Example: Ithan is often endearingly referred to as a pup by the Prime Alpha in Sarah J. Maas’s Crescent City series. However, it’s more of a slight when it comes from the Prime’s daughter, Sabine.
Designation – an inherent trait born within natural wolves that defines their roles within pack hierarchies. There are three designations: alpha, beta, and omega.
Fated – a supernatural romantic link between one or more werewolves. They were fated to be together. Usually, mates recognize each other at first sight and have a distinct scent that attracts one another.
Example: Roxie Ray’s The Alpha’s Fated Encounter is a spicy romance story of an alpha wolf who finds his fated mate after he finds her injured.
Heat – a period of extreme sexual want experienced by an omega. This event differs by writer as to how long it takes, what needs to be done, and how often it occurs. The omega gives off certain pheromones to entice their alphas and pack members to engage in intercourse. Often described as a physical heat that exudes from the omega until they’re sexually satisfied. This time is also meant to encourage reproduction.
Hierarchy – the status of where a designation sits within a pack. 1st – Alpha, 2nd – Beta, 3rd – Omega.
Hybrid – the genetic combination of a werewolf and a vampire (or another supernatural creature).
Knot – a bulge at the base of a male alpha that inflates when orgasm occurs to lock an omega around them until satiated.
Example: The Knot Yours Omegaverse series by Sinclair Kelly features this particular wolf-trope.
Knotting – the end result of a sexual mating between an omega and an alpha whereby they are locked together by their genitals until the alpha’s knot (male) or lock (female) releases the omega. This is an extremely intimate action.
Lock – an alpha female equivalent to a male knot; however, the alpha female is able to clamp her male omega to her until she is satisfied.
Luna – the female mate of the pack alpha.
Mate – the love interest of another wolf. Whether fated or through a mating ceremony (much like a human wedding), the mate is the equivalent of a spouse.
Mind Link – a telepathic communication ability when shifters are in their animal forms. This is enhanced when it comes to mates. They often feel each other’s emotions and can speak to one another when not in their wolf forms.
Omega – the rarest designation. They’re the weakest of the designations and, depending on the story, are the most revered or abused of the pack.
Omegaverse – also referred to as A/O/B – is an alternate reality whereby humans have the animalistic instincts of wolves but not the ability to shift into an animal. Designation hierarchies and higher instincts like smell and strength play a dominant role.
Want to read all about the omegaverse genres? Click here.
Pack – a group of wolves. This can range from a community of wolves living together to a small family of wolves.
Pack House – the main social gathering place of a community pack of wolves. Pack governance is typically handled here, and the pack alpha and his family usually reside here.
Rejected – when a wolf refuses to recognize their fated mate. There are a variety of mythologies that accompany this action, from the death of mourning by the rejected to a lingering yearning that follows the rejected throughout their lives (sometimes until a wolf finds a connection with someone else).
Rogue – also referred to as a loner, this is a packless wolf.
Example: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong is a series that features the world’s only female werewolf, who just so happens to hunt rogue werewolves.
Shift – The process by which a man turns into a wolf and vice versa.
Silver – in some mythologies, this is a poisonous agent used to restrain a wolf. It burns them on contact.
Slick – the intimate secretion released by an omega during a heat or arousal to make intense, prolonged intercourse easier.
Territory – the land/area that is possessed by a pack of werewolves. Werewolves are possessive and territorial, and novels depict wars between packs over their territory.
Turned – a human who was infected through a scratch or bite and is now a werewolf.
Example: Moon Called, a Mercy Thompson novel by Patricia Briggs, finds werewolf mechanic Mercy Thompson revisiting the pack she was exiled from when her new assistant is a recently turned wolf.
Wolfsbane – this is a plant that is poisonous to wolves; it’s often used to make potions to slip into a wolf’s drink or food.
Werewolf – Also referred to as a Lycan, lycanthrope, shifter, or wolfman. This is a mythological creature that can change forms from a man to a wolf (in varying forms) during the full moon or, in some cases, at will. Depending on the genre and writer, werewolves can be naturally born through the mating of at least one wolf and his mate, or they’re made by being infected through a bite or scratch by a werewolf.
Hopefully, this all-in-one werewolf dictionary was helpful. Did we miss anything? Make sure to let us know!