Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Were and wer are archaic terms for adult male humans and were often used for alliteration with wife as "were and wife". Another like pair in older English was "groom and girl". Since wife originally meant any female, bride was the more natural term for a married woman.
In folklore and fantasy fiction, were- is often used as a prefix applied to an animal name to indicate a type of shapeshifter (e.g. "were-boar"). This usage can be seen as a back formation from werewolf (literally, "man-wolf"), as there is no equivalent wolfwife. A further back formation, polywere, eliminates the animal root entirely.
In reference to this, the word "were" is also sometimes used as a term of self-identification by members of the therianthropy subculture, though in recent years this usage seems to be declining as more people become aware of its etymology (i.e. that without the animal suffix it simply means "man" rather than "shapeshifter"), and the term "therian" is now more commonly used in that context.
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