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An orc (or ork) is a fictional humanoid monster akin to a goblin. Orcs were brought into modern usage by the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien's works, orcs are a brutish, aggressive, ugly and malevolent race, contrasting with the benevolent Elves and serving an evil power, though they share a human sense of morality but technically are a race of elves themselves.
Mythological monsters with names similar to "orc" can be found in the Old English poem Beowulf, in Early Modern poetry, and in Northern European folk tales and fairy tales. Tolkien stated that he took the name from Beowulf.
The is glossed as "Orc, Ã¾yrs, oÃ°Ã°e hel-deofol" ("Goblin, spectre, or hell-devil") in the 10th century Old English Cleopatra Glossary, about which Thomas Wright wrote, "Orcus was the name for Pluto, the god of the infernal regions, hence we can easily understand the explanation of hel-deofol. Orc, in Anglo-Saxon, like thyrs, means a spectre, or goblin." The Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal defines ork in the closely related Old Dutch language as a verslindend monster ("devouring monster"), and points at a possible origin in the Old Dutch nork "petulant, crabbed, evil person".
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