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[fohk-lawr, -lohr] /ˈfoʊkˌlɔr, -ˌloʊr/

the traditional beliefs, legends, customs, etc., of a people; of a people.
the study of such lore.
a body of widely held but false or unsubstantiated beliefs.
the unwritten literature of a people as expressed in folk tales, proverbs, riddles, songs, etc
the body of stories and legends attached to a particular place, group, activity, etc: Hollywood folklore, rugby folklore
the anthropological discipline concerned with the study of folkloric materials

1846, coined by antiquarian William J. Thoms (1803-1885) as an Anglo-Saxonism (replacing popular antiquities) and first published in the “Athenaeum” of Aug. 22, 1846, from folk + lore. Old English folclar meant “homily.”

This word revived folk in a modern sense of “of the common people, whose culture is handed down orally,” and opened up a flood of compound formations, e.g. folk art (1892), folk-hero (1874), folk-medicine (1877), folk-tale/folk tale (1850; Old English folctalu meant “genealogy”), folk-song (1847), folk singer (1876), folk-dance (1877).

Traditional stories and legends, transmitted orally (rather than in writing) from generation to generation. The stories of Paul Bunyan are examples of American folklore.


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  • Folkloristics

    [fohk-law-ris-tik, -loh-ris-] /ˌfoʊk lɔˈrɪs tɪk, -loʊˈrɪs-/ noun, (used with a singular verb) 1. (def 2).

  • Folk-magic

    noun 1. any attempt to practice charms, spells, etc., to control events or people.

  • Folk-mass

    noun 1. a liturgical mass in which traditional music is replaced by folk music.

  • Folk-medicine

    noun 1. health practices arising from superstition, cultural traditions, or empirical use of native remedies, especially food substances. noun 1. the traditional art of medicine as practised among rustic communities and primitive peoples, consisting typically of the use of herbal remedies, fruits and vegetables thought to have healing power, etc folk medicine n. Traditional medicine […]

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