> Yep - even the versions I gave with 'wolf' first support the point > that 'wolf' is the head of the phrase and the 'man/human' word is the > attribute. It does seem that people regarded these creatures as > essentially wolves trapped for the most part in humanoid form, rather > than humans who occasionally got transmogrified into wolves. That seems odd to me. If I had to invent an English compound word for the concept (that is, if the borrowed word "werewolf" didn't exist) I would choose wolf-man, not man-wolf... and I would say that man is the head in that compound (following the general rule in English that the head of a compound comes last). That is, if I introduced "wolf-man" into some hypothetical discourse, I could refer to its referent as "the man", but not "the wolf" (unless I'd explicitly mentioned that my wolf man had changed shape sometime between the first and second reference). Indeed, werewolf works the same way for me. Refering back to "the werewolf" by use of "the man" seems right, whereas "the wolf" does not without explicit mention or strong contextual indication of the fact that the werewolf is, in fact, in the shape of a wolf. I would argue that in English, semantically at least, a werewolf is seen as a man who turns into a wolf, and not as a wolf who turns into a man.