shapeshifter n.

one that shapeshifts

  • 1939 ‘G. T. Field’ These Doth Lord Hate in Weird Tales Jan. 105/1–2 page image Manly Wade Wellman bibliography

    In Bredbur, near Cologne, lived a dozen or more aging men who horrifiedly had seen a captured wolf turn back into their neighbor, the damnable Peter Stumpf. Gilles Grenier, prisoned in a Franciscan friary at Bordeaux, would cheerfully tell any visitor his adventures as a devil-gifted warlock, shape[-]shifter and cannibal. But times and beliefs have changed.

  • 1960 A. Garner Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1967) 72

    Old Shape-shifter up to her tricks! We might have guessed the weight of the matter had we but known she was behind it!

  • 1977 R. Zelazny in Galaxy Nov. 11/2 Roger Zelazny

    ‘And your appearance… It was altered on a number of occasions when I saw you walk the Pattern. How? Also, why?’ ‘All whose origins involve Chaos are shapeshifters.’

  • 1982 R. Zelazny Eye of Cat (1983) 29 Roger Zelazny

    They're shapeshifters. They have a kind of mental control over their bodies.

  • 1992 Locus June 58/3

    Book 1 has some of the best fiction, against a shared background of alien shapeshifters (with a strong element of werewolf) older than humanity and scattered throughout human history.

  • 1993 Science Fiction Age Jan. 16/3

    Newman’s exploration of exactly what Jago’s followers are trying to do brings in everything from shapeshifters to the famous tripodal Martian war machines of H.G. Wells.

  • 1993 Science Fiction Stud. Nov. 400

    Their nemesis is a shapeshifter capable…of dissembling itself as any of the life-forms it has assimilated.

  • 1994 P. C. Wrede Raven Ring (1995) 214

    He vanished…the same way the shapeshifter vanished from this room a few minutes ago. I think Mobrellan is the wizard who was helping Jonystra, and I think he’s the shapeshifter who pretended to be Daner.

  • 1995 D. Naylor Last Human 170

    A symbiotic shape-shifter. Intuitively, they understand your needs and morph into the shape that most pleases you.

  • 1996 D. W. Jones Tough Guide to Fantasyland 170

    Shapeshifting is frequent amongst both WERES and MAGIC USERS. The most usual form taken is that of a WOLF (see also WEREWOLVES), but lions, eagles, serpents, owls and cats are common too. In all cases the rule is that the Shapeshifter cannot stay too long in ANIMAL form without actually becoming that Animal and losing touch with his/her human thoughts.

  • 1996 L. K. Hamilton Lunatic Cafe 120

    The book is set up with each chapter being a different animal form. I give history, any well-known shapeshifters of that form from history, then a personal profile of a present-day shapeshifter.

  • 1997 2000 AD 28 Oct. 27/1 (caption)

    This brave new world is a bizarre mixture of aliens and anachronisms with bio-weapons and shapeshifters just as common as Imperial concubines and duels over the hand of a Lady.

  • 1997 W. Shatner Avenger xxvi. 224 William Shatner

    As if some shapeshifter had taken Spock’s form.

  • 2000 G. Cook Soldiers Live 137

    The shapeshifter staggered forward a few steps. Someone hit it a glancing shot with a fireball.

  • 2001 Cult Times Feb. 56/3

    Liz goes off with Max, little realizing that she is being abducted by the shapeshifter, who hopes to lead Agent Pierce to him.

  • 2018 S. Kenyon Stygian 264 Sherrilyn Kenyon bibliography

    ‘I’m a Katagari Tsakali.’ Urian was the first to snort. ‘You say that as if we should have a clue as to what it means.’ He cast a disdainful smirk toward him. ‘Means I’m a shapeshifter. You don’t get out much, do you?’

Research requirements

antedating 1939

Earliest cite

Manly Wade Wellman, writing as "Gans T. Field"

Research History
There is a single cite of 1887 in OED, referring to Norse mythology. Mike Christie submitted a cite from a 1983 reprint of Roger Zelazny's "Eye of Cat".
Apollo Crum submitted a cite from a reprint of Roger Zelazny's "The Courts of Chaos"; Mike Christie verified the cite in the original 1977 magazine publication.
Malcolm Farmer submitted a cite from a 1967 reprint of Alan Garner's "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen"; we would like to check the 1960 first edition.
Imran Ghory submitted a 1995 cite from Doug Naylor's "Last Human".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from an undated reprint of Laurell Hamilton's 1996 "Lunatic Cafe".
Douglas Winston submitted a cite from a 1995 reprint of Patricia Wrede's 1994 "The Raven Ring".
Douglas Winston submitted a 2000 cite from Glen Cook's "Soldiers Live".
Ben Ostrowsky submitted a 1939 cite from M. W. Wellman.

Last modified 2021-11-01 22:01:13
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.