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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Lich \Lich\ (l[i^]k), a. Like. [Obs.]


Lich \Lich\ (l[i^]ch), n. [AS. l[=i]c body. See Like, a.] A dead body; a corpse. [Obs.]

Lich fowl (Zo["o]l.), the European goatsucker; -- called also lich owl.

Lich gate, a covered gate through which the corpse was carried to the church or burial place, and where the bier was placed to await the clergyman; a corpse gate. [Prov. Eng.]

Lich wake, the wake, or watching, held over a corpse before burial. [Prov Eng.]

Lich wall, the wall of a churchyard or burying ground.

Lich way, the path by which the dead are carried to the grave. [Prov. Eng.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

also litch, lych, "body, corpse," southern England dialectal survival of Old English lic "body, dead body, corpse," cognate with Old Frisian lik, Dutch lijk, Old High German lih, German leiche "dead body," Old Norse lik, Danish lig, Gothic leik, from Proto-Germanic *likow. Compare litch-gate "roofed gate to a churchyard under which a bier is placed to await the coming of the clergyman."


n. (context archaic English) A corpse or dead body. (from 9th c.)


In fantasy fiction, a lich (; cognate to Dutchlijk, GermanLeiche, Norselík, and Swedishlik, all meaning "corpse") is a type of undead creature. Often such a creature is the result of a transformation, as a powerful magician or king striving for eternal life uses spells or rituals to bind his intellect to his phylactery and thereby achieve a form of immortality. Liches are depicted as being clearly cadaverous, bodies desiccated or completely skeletal. Liches are often depicted as holding power over hordes of lesser undead creatures, using them as soldiers and servants.

Unlike zombies, which are often depicted as mindless, part of a hivemind or under the control of another, a lich retains revenant-like independent thought and is usually at least as intelligent as it was prior to its transformation. In some works of fiction, liches can be distinguished from other undead by their phylactery, an item of the lich's choosing into which they imbue their soul, giving them immortality until the phylactery is destroyed.

Various works of fantasy fiction, such as Clark Ashton Smith's "Empire of the Necromancers", had used lich as a general term for any corpse, animated or inanimate, before the term's specific use in fantasy role-playing games. The more recent use of the term lich for a specific type of undead creature originates from the 1976 Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game booklet Eldritch Wizardry, written by Gary Gygax and Brian Blume.

Lich (Dungeons & Dragons)

The lich is an undead creature found in the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game. Liches are spellcasters who seek to defy death by magical means.

Lich (disambiguation)

Lich may refer to:

  • As an archaic and nearly obsolete English word with variant spelling litch, a corpse (as in the term lich-house and a folk etymology for the toponyms Lichfield and Litchfield)
  • In fantasy literature and in games in the fantasy genre, a type of undead sorcerer (see Fiction below)

Usage examples of "lich".

He started to intone another spell, but the archmage struck again, seeking to dispel any enchantments or abjurations protecting the lich.

Or did the great and supreme sleeping Karsus fall to a passing adventurer-mage of puny spells, who thought he was beheading a lich?

Were the humanoids allied with the undead, given that a pyramid ship-long known to be an abode for mummies, liches, and other perversions-traveled in their fleet with them?

Most of the liches ignored him and strode toward the inn, but he still faced three of the monsters.

A dozen men and liches fought in a confused mass in front of the inn proper.

Folk bent close to dead liches to be sure of what they were seeing, then rose with exclamations of horror and disgust.

The liches came on, smiling skeletally through their translucent flesh.

He struck with the sword pommel, turned, and cut a pair of liches across at midchest with a single sweeping motion.

The liches were already dead, but perhaps her own blood would give Meder the power he needed for his incantation.

Neither the armor some liches wore nor the blows they rained with a variety of weapons on Meder had any effect on his actions.

Score of liches and their varied weaponry lay strewn and shattered across the polished floors.

Hot on their trail were gargoyle-faced liches in unhemmed robes, and behind them roared a phalanx of honking blue Volvos.

What was he up to with liches and magic spells and lessons in making Molotov cocktails?

Typical of all liches, he desired nothing more than to enhance his own power at any cost.

Now your blade is enchanted and can rend the flesh of any magical creature: harpies, liches, bugbears, anything.