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According to the folklore and mythology of the peoples of Northern Europe, the ogres (from Latin Orcus) are a race of humanoid beings, fierce and cruel monsters, that eat human flesh; they are also shy and cowardly, and have little or no intelligence and cleverness, which makes it easy for men to defeat them. A female of this race is called ogress. Ogres are said to be able to change their shape at will into animals or objects, and they often dwell in marvellous palaces or castles, sometimes underground. In art, ogres are depicted with a big head, abundant and hirsute hair and beard, a huge belly, and a strong body.

In Scandinavian countries, there is no concept for "ogre", they are translated into trolls. They are trolls that are considered to be masters of castles built in the mountains, keeping fabulous treasures (compare with the Irish leprechaun); this creature is considered to be either a giant (most commonly) or a dwarf.

Literature for children has plenty of tales mentioning ogres and kidnapped princesses who were rescued by valiant knights and, sometimes, peasants. Ogres are also popular in fantasy games. In recent times the most famous ogre is the CG character Shrek who breaks several of the stereotypes.

By extension, the term ogre applies to disgusting persons with a violent temper.

See also: orc; giant; oni

Other meanings: