AskDefine | Define ichor

Dictionary Definition



1 (Greek mythology) the rarified fluid said to flow in the veins of the Gods
2 a fluid product of inflammation [syn: pus, purulence, suppuration, sanies, festering]

User Contributed Dictionary



mid 17th century, from Classical Greek: ιχώρ


  1. the liquid that in Greek Mythology was said to flow in place of blood in the veins of the gods
  2. In the context of "poetically": any bloodlike fluid
  3. a watery, fetid discharge from a sore


  • 1720: This said, she wiped from Venus’ wounded palm / The sacred ichor, and infused the balm. — Alexander Pope, The Iliad
  • 1936: Wrap him for shroud in a petal. / Embalm him with ichor of nettle. — Robert Frost, 'Departmental', 1936
  • 1989: They will not live / As shades but angle forward to enjoy / The pluck of life, the pressure of their ichor. — Peter Porter, 'They Come Back More', from Possible Worlds, 1989

Extensive Definition

In Greek mythology, ichor (Greek ) is the mineral that is the Greek gods' blood, sometimes said to have been present in ambrosia or nectar. When a god was injured and bled, the ichor made his or her blood poisonous to mortals.
Ichor has also been used to mean the blood in a vampire's veins. Whereas many vampire stories and movies describe them as having reddish or dark red blood, others describe vampire blood as being different from human blood altogether—an ichor that is traditionally dark green in color.
H. P. Lovecraft often used ichor in his descriptions of other-worldly creatures, most prominently in his nightmarish detail of the chimeric remains of Wilbur Whateley, in "The Dunwich Horror".
The term ichor is often misused in fantasy contexts by authors trying to find a different word for "blood" or "ooze", to the point that it has become cliché. Author Ursula LeGuin, in "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie", calls the term "the infallible touchstone of the seventh-rate."
Ichor has also been used in science fiction as an alien substitute for blood, as in Garth Nix's book Shade's Children. Additionally, in the Dragonriders of Pern novel series, Anne McCaffrey refers to the blood of the alien (but genetically enhanced by humans) Pernese dragons as ichor.

See also


ichor in German: Ichor
ichor in Modern Greek (1453-): Ιχώρ
ichor in Spanish: Icor
ichor in French: Ichor
ichor in Italian: Icore
ichor in Polish: Ichor

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Rh factor, Rh-negative, Rh-positive, Rh-type, Rhesus factor, antibody, antigen, arterial blood, blood, blood bank, blood cell, blood count, blood donor, blood donor center, blood group, blood grouping, blood picture, blood platelet, blood pressure, blood serum, blood substitute, bloodmobile, bloodstream, chyle, circulation, clinical dextran, colostrum, dextran, discharge, erythrocyte, festering, gleet, globulin, gore, grume, hematics, hematologist, hematology, hematoscope, hematoscopy, hemocyte, hemoglobin, hemometer, humor, isoantibody, lachryma, lactation, leukocyte, leukorrhea, lifeblood, lymph, matter, mattering, milk, mucor, mucus, neutrophil, opsonin, peccant humor, phagocyte, phlegm, plasma, plasma substitute, purulence, pus, rankling, red corpuscle, rheum, running, saliva, sanies, serous fluid, serum, snot, suppuration, sweat, tear, teardrop, the whites, type O, urine, venous blood, white corpuscle
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