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A Vârcolac in Romanian folklore may refer to several different figures. In some versions, a vârcolac is a wolf demon, which, like the Norse Hati and Sköll, occasionally swallows the moon and the sun, and is thus responsible for eclipses. It may also refer to a wizard that has the power to turn into a wolf for camouflage. This so-called vârcolac had magical powers that made him be feared by local men who thus called him a demon.

Other legends say it is a ghost or vampire (Strigoi) while a third group of traditions say it is a werewolf (in some versions, a werewolf that emerges from the corpses of babies[citation needed]). In Romanian, vârcolac commonly means "werewolf". It can occasionally mean "goblin".

The word vârcolac is a loan from Slavic (cf. Bulgarian vǎrkolak, Serbian vukodlak), originally meaning "werewolf" (etymologically "Wolf's Fur"). However, the term has come to denote mostly vampires in Balkan Slavic folklore. Nevertheless, the idea that the vârkolak is a wolf that swallows the sun and the moon is also attested in North-Western Bulgaria.