Greek and Latin

Ancient Greek had the word "drakon", which means "serpent." [1] In addition, this term are related to others which mean things along the lines of "sharp-sighted," [1] "to watch," [2] or "to look at." [2] Therefore, this creature wasn't necessarily seen as a Western Dragon as most think of it.

As a matter of fact, the Greek dragons were mainly serpent in shape. For instance, Python and Boa were both serpent-shaped dragons.

Latin had perhaps the more-well known word "draco." This, too, is translated to mean "serpent."5 The Romans saw dragons as winged serpents; however, since much of Greek and Roman mythology is related, it is hard to differentiate between Greek dragons and Roman dragons. Still, they share the common attributes as a serpent-like creature, usually with wings.


In Norse, the word "ormr" is translated to mean dragon. However, it actually means something more along the lines of "worm" or "vurm." [2] It is translated into "dragon" because it is used for creatures which are dragon-like or serpentine. [2]

The reason for the word not quite meaning "dragon" can be found in the dragons of the Norse. Jormungand, perhaps the most famous Norse dragon, was simple a huge serpent. Nidhogg, one of the only creatures referred to as a dragon in Norse mythology, was also described to be serpent-like.

The British Isles

In Ireland, the word "drag" meant fire. [3] This is a very interesting word to relate to the dragons of Ireland, as many of them were more closely connected with water. For instance, Muirdris was a huge water serpent; there is no mention of him being able to breath fire.

In Welsh, the word for dragon is "Ddraig," which also refers to the Red Dragon of Wales. [4] The best-known dragon of Wales is Y Ddraig Goch, or the Red Dragon, which can be found on Wales' flag. [4]

It is also interesting to note that, in Welsh, the word "dreigiaw" meant "silent meteors." [3] In a way, the connection between these two words suggests that dragons were seen as a destructive force; however, Y Ddraig Goch was used for the flag because of its symbol of authority.


  1. Nigg Wonder Beasts
  2. Rose Giants, Monsters, & Dragons
  3. Allardice Myths, Gods And Fantasy
  4. Wales (United Kingdom) <>

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.