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The Collaborative International Dictionary

orc \orc\ ([^o]rk), n. [L. orca, a kind of whale: cf. F. orque.]

  1. (Zo["o]l.) Any of several cetaceans, especialy the grampus ( Grampus griseus) of the dolphin family. [Written also ork and orch.]

    An island salt and bare, The haunt of seals, and orcs, and sea-mews' clang.
    --Milton (Par. Lost xi. 835).

  2. (Mythology) A mythical monster of varying descriptions; an ogre.

    Goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description.
    --J. J. Tolkien (The Hobbit)

  3. The orca.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"ogre, devouring monster," Old English orcþyrs, orcneas (plural), perhaps from a Romanic source akin to ogre, and ultimately from Latin Orcus "Hell," a word of unknown origin. Revived by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) as the name of a brutal race in Middle Earth.But Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. ["Return of the King," 1955]


Etymology 1 n. Any of several large, ferocious sea creatures, now especially the killer whale. (from 16th c.) Etymology 2

n. (context fantasy mythology English) A mythical evil monstrous humanoid creature, usually quite aggressive. (from 17th c.)

Orc (Middle-earth)

In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings, Orcs are a race of creatures who are used as soldiers and henchmen by both the greater and lesser villains of The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings— Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman.

Although not entirely dim-witted and occasionally crafty, they are portrayed as miserable beings, hating everyone including themselves and their masters, whom they serve out of fear. They make no beautiful things, but rather design cunning devices made to hurt and destroy.

In some of his unpublished early work, Tolkien appears to distinguish orcs from goblins. By the time of his published work, however, the terms had become synonymous. The Hobbit generally uses the term goblin, while the Lord of the Rings prefers orc. The opponents of the dwarves in "Dwarf and Goblin War" of The Hobbit are described as orcs in Appendix A of The Lord of the Rings. No distinction is made by size; large orcs, including the Uruk-hai, are just as much goblins as are smaller ones.

Orc (Blake)

Orc is a proper name for one of the characters in the complex mythology of William Blake. Unlike the medieval sea beast, or Tolkien's humanoid monster, his Orc is a positive figure, the embodiment of rebellion, and stands opposed to Urizen, the embodiment of tradition.

In Blake's illuminated book America a Prophecy, Orc is described by his mythic opponent, "Albion's Angel" as the "Lover of Wild Rebellion, and transgressor of God's Law". He symbolizes the spirit of rebellion and freedom, which provoked the French Revolution.

Orc (disambiguation)

Orc or ORC may refer to:

Orc (Dungeons & Dragons)

In the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, orcs are a primitive race of savage, bestial, barbaric humanoid.

Orc (programming language)

Orc is a concurrent, nondeterministic computer programming language created by Jayadev Misra at the University of Texas at Austin.

Orc provides uniform access to computational services, including distributed communication and data manipulation, through sites. Using four simple concurrency primitives, the programmer orchestrates the invocation of sites to achieve a goal, while managing timeouts, priorities, and failures.


(mask sculpted by Cornel Zueger).]]

An orc (also spelled as ork, orch, or yrch) is a fictional humanoid creature that is part of a fantasy race akin to goblins.

While the overall concept of orcs draws on a variety of pre-existing mythology, the main conception of the creatures stems from the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, in particular The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien's works, orcs are a brutish, aggressive, repulsive and generally malevolent species, existing in stark contrast with the benevolent Elvish race (from which their own ancestors were developed and corrupted) and generally pressed into the service of an evil power. Tolkien's concept of orcs has subsequently been adapted and imported into other works of fantasy fiction as well as into fantasy role-playing and strategy games (such as Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, and Warcraft), broadening the recognition of the creatures in popular culture.

Earlier references to creatures etymologically or conceptually similar to orcs can be found in Old English and Anglo-Saxon sources; including Beowulf and 16th-century Italian folk tales, in particular those of Giambattista Basile.

Usage examples of "orc".

But the vicious sword took that fear and transformed it, bombarding poor Delly with images of her child being massacred by those same orcs, turning her terror into red rage so completely that she was soon running headlong for the camp.

Leading the way up the forested slope, Daile emerged from the autumn-colored forest, finding herself on the high, rocky crest of granite that Ren affectionately dubbed Dead Orc Ridge.

I can suspend my disbelief enough to accept that a tiny hobbit could kill a huge orc, but Tolkien stretches it to the breaking point when he adds that the hobbit has never even used a sword before.

Orcs, even Huor, for he would not be restrained, though he was but thirteen years old.

Gunny was still breathing but he had a gash the size of a forearm in his side, the heavy blow from the orc having smashed the loricated plate in.

She then punched the startled Orvaega in the snout, breaking bone and knocking the orc unconscious, and shoved her into Sewer Rat, which served to knock the runtish meazel backward, spoiling its frenzied attack.

He batted it backward, then stabbed the prone orc behind the ear, snuffing the light in its sunken eyes.

Their leader, a mighty orc almost twice as tall as the sort of tusker Alusair was used to slaying in the Stonelands, whose much-battered breastplate was studded with grinning human skulls, was grinning at her as one large, grubby finger rubbed along the glyphs of the largest tainted tree Alusair had yet seen.

If an orc or a goblin had gone into that cave, Bluster would have swatted it dead without a second thought.

Badgers were possibly the meanest creatures in the region, even above the orcs, quicker to anger than Bluster the bear and quite willing to take the offensive against any opponent, no matter how large.

Most of the orcs in the field heard the newest danger before they saw it, for Bluster and his friends were a noisy lot.

Felagund, who had the friendship of Thingol, hearing of all that had befallen the People of Haleth, obtained this grace for her: that she should dwell free in Brethil, upon the condition only that her people should guard the Crossings of Teiglin against all enemies of the Eldar, and allow no Orcs to enter their woods.

But most were now destroyed, or had fled into Brethil, and all that region lay under the fear of Orcs, and of outlaws.

Not long afterwards, as Beleg had feared, the Orcs came across the Brithiach, and being resisted with all the force that he could muster by Handir of Brethil they passed south over the Crossings of Teiglin in search of plunder.

But he turned towards Brethil, and at the same time I learned from wanderers in the land that the Black Sword of Nargothrond had appeared there again, and the Orcs shunned its borders as death.