Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n.pl. The spirits of the dead considered in ancient Rome as frightening specters and often exorcised from the homes in religious rituals.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The spirits or ghosts of the dead.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.pl. Spirits or ghosts of the departed; specters.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Among the ancient Romans, the spirits of the departed considered as evil-disposed specters or ghosts, who were supposed to do mischief at night to the living, and were exorcised annually with a ceremonial ritual by the head of each household, at midnight on May 9th, 11th, and 13th, on which days was celebrated the festival called lemuralia or lemuria.
  • In zoology:
  • Lemurs: equivalent to Lemuroidea.
  • A group of noctuid moths.

Etymologies

Latin Lemurēs.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin See lemur. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • For if no one has seen farfadets, or lemures, or dives, or peris, or demons, or cacodemons, the predictions of astrologers have often been found true.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • “No farmer will fell the forest around it for fear of angering the lemures.”

    Antony and Cleopatra

  • That way, they belong to old Egypt and will not become lemures to haunt Rome.

    Antony and Cleopatra

  • Coals glowed red in several braziers to take the chill out of the room, and the servants moved like lemures in and out of the shadows.

    Antony and Cleopatra

  • Not being given to the fear of larvae and lemures, and also knowing that a mistake is easily committed in a great house like that, and that my visitor might have made one, I grew drowsy in a little while, and soon fell asleep again.

    Wylder's Hand

  • Lemures or larvae, and Ursula, she said to me that she had been young, young as me; they were all human and now they are lemures/'

    Vittorio, The Vampire

  • On leaving human bodies they become lares if they have shown themselves good, if evil, lemures or larvae.

    Vittorio, The Vampire

  • * [573] Nocturnos lemures, portentaque Thessala finxit

    A Dissertation on Divine Justice

  • We had hardly reached the accustomed spot, when we both saw her at once gliding towards us; punctually as the ancient writers describe the motion of their ‘lemures, which swoon along the ground, neither marking the sand nor bending the herbage.

    The Botathen Ghost

  • I had read of banshees, lemures and leprechauns; they were the ghosts and the fairies of ignorance but they were not like this.

    The Blind Spot

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Comments

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  • " fermented lemures, fiery spectres,
    embottled spirit vapors swirling in the crude"
    "The Sink" by Catherine Bowman in The New Yorker, June 28, 2010, p 36

    July 14, 2010