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Wizard Vs Warlock: What’s The Difference?

Differentiating a wizard from a warlock can be difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with both concepts. For those who are new to the world of fantasy, it can be not very clear to understand the diverse classes. After all, is there a difference between a wizard and a warlock? Or do they mean the same?

In fact, there is a difference between them. The word “wizard” is dated from the Middle Age, and its etymology is “wise”. However, the word “warlock” comes from the Old English word “waerloga”, which means “oath-breaker”. They both use magic, but differently.

These concepts may seem simple, but it is a bit tricky to see the difference between them since they are so similar. Many famous stories use them as synonyms, so it is even harder for us to see the differences. However, they exist.

The Real Difference Between Wizard And Warlock

Let’s understand more about the real difference between a wizard and a warlock.

What is a Wizard?

A wizard is a wise person who offers advice to the masses and follows the codes of morality and ethics. If you are familiar with the fantasy world, you may be thinking of some famous characters known for their knowledge and wise advice.

The truth is that the meaning of wizard can be very diverse. Each fantasy universe will have a different wizard. Overall, wizards are wise, and magic is not something so natural to them. They learn spells by reading ancient tomes, which are usually called grimoires. Even if there are no books in a certain fantasy world, the wizard probably still learned his abilities through some knowledge holder. The fact is that usually, magic doesn’t come naturally to them.

Yes, I said “his”. Wizard is a term mostly used for males. However, it can be used as a unisex term. Since the stereotypical wizard is a male, let me describe his usual physical appearance to you. Wizards are typically described as old males with white hair and long white beards. This description makes sense to their characteristics since the common sense of a wise person is generally an older person.

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What is a Warlock?

A warlock is a male practitioner of witchcraft. If you don’t know, witchcraft traditionally means using supernatural powers or magic to harm others, but it also has different meanings. As I said earlier, warlock means “breaker of oaths”, or even “deceiver”, which are certainly not compliments.

Wizards and warlock were terms used in real life, so some people were known as wizards or warlocks. Being known as a wizard wasn’t necessarily bad, but during the Middle Ages, being known as warlock was certainly terrible.

It was said that warlocks made pacts with the devil and that they would spread evil in the world. If you are familiar with the hatred that the witches went through, be aware that the warlocks went through something similar. Anyone considered a warlock would be executed. Yet, some survived. A known example of a person who was considered a warlock that survived is John Napier of Merchiston, a Scottish landowner from the 16th century.

The 5 Major Differences Between A Wizard And A Warlock

Now that you understand a bit more about each one, let’s see the 5 major differences between a wizard and a warlock.

1. Society’s perception of them

The biggest real difference between them is the way society perceives them. As I told you, both terms were used in the real world, so people there are people who were known as wizards or warlocks. Being a wizard wasn’t necessarily bad. It was quite the contrary, actually. Since wizards are wise and follow the code of morality and ethics, they were respected. People would seek them for their advice and help.

The story was very different for the warlocks. They were considered pure evil, malicious, and cruel. Many thought that they had made a deal with the devil. Any male considered a warlock would be executed. So, usually, a wizard is perceived positively, while a warlock is considered a horrible person, a monster.

Remember that I’m describing how they were perceived in the real world. In the fantasy world, it depends on what the author wants. Many warlocks are still seen negatively in fantasy, but some people’s stories created loved warlocks who were good.

2. The etymology of the word

A warlock is older than a wizard. It comes from Old English and means “breaker of oaths” or “deceiver”. Meanwhile, the wizard comes from the Middle Age and means “wise”. The etymology of those words is very different, and it shows how the world perceives them.

3. Their powers

The supposed powers of wizards and warlocks were diverse. A warlock is the dark embodiment of magic, so their powers were pretty dark. It was said that they would even mess with the dead. They would use unholy magic that would cause great damage to their enemies.

A wizard’s power would come from their knowledge and nature. It would be good and right, only being used for the good of others. Both would have many powers and skills. In fantasy, the wizard’s magic is generally represented as blue, while the warlock’s magic is generally purple.

4. Their items

Wizards are known for their tomes. In RPGs, especially Dungeons & Dragons, wizards need to say spell so they can use magic. Staffs are common magical items used by wizards. It is pretty similar to a wand but much bigger. Its function is the same: to help the caster focus on concentration so the spells go smoothly.

Meanwhile, the warlocks are also known for their spells, but they come from different sources. Their tomes are as horrible as they are, supposedly. They use potions as well. A warlock may or may not have a wand, but usually, they don’t have a staff.

5. Their communities

A warlock and a wizard are known for working alone. However, they can still be part of a community. Wizards are usually part of a small group of wise people, usually other wizards. Warlocks are usually people who were part of a coven but were exiled for their terrible actions.

  • It is a word from the Middle Age that means “wise”;
  • It is usually portrayed as a wise and good person who other people seek for advice;
  • Wizards are commonly males;
  • Wizards use staffs and obtain their knowledge from old tomes;
  • They are portrayed as an old male with white hair and a long white beard;
  • It is a word from the Old English that means “breaker of oaths” or “deceiver”;
  • It is usually portrayed as a cruel and vicious person who made a pact with the devil or evil forces;
  • Warlock is the male version of a witch;
  • They may use wands and potions;
  • They were witches banned from their covens for their bad deeds;
  • Warlocks were executed in real life;

Famous Warlocks In Mythology

When you see the word wizard, you can immediately think of at least two examples of famous wizards, which probably are Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Dumbledore from Harry Potter. However, do you know any famous warlock?

There are actually many examples of famous fantasy warlock characters, such as the Marvel Comics’ Warlock, the Warlock role from Dungeons & Dragons, the Warlock class from World of Warcraft, etc.

What Are Other Names For Wizards And Warlocks?

Although all these are different terms, many people, including authors, use them as synonyms. So both warlocks and wizards may be known as magicians, mages, sorcerers, spell-casters, magic-user, or enchanters.

What Is The Difference Between A Wizard And A Sorcerer?

A sorcerer is pretty similar to the perception of a warlock. They are known as evil users of magic that would place curses on people. Sorcerers cast spells but don’t necessarily use wands. They are masters of the occult arts, and tomes are fundamental to them. A famous sorcerer is Doctor Strange from the Marvel Universe. H.P Lovecraft wrote about sorcerers as well.

What Is The Difference Between A Wizard And A Mage?

A mage is a more generical term for a user of magic. The magic a mage uses can come from multiple sources, but it is usually natural or learned through tomes. Mages cast spells and can use both wands or their hands to cast spells. There are many types of mages, including the elemental mages, people who have the power of conjuring elements with their bare hands.

What Is A Female Wizard Called?

A female wizard can be called a wizard. This is a unisex term. However, usually, they are called a witch or sorceress. The word wizardess does exist but is quite rare.

Is Gandalf A Wizard Or A Warlock?

Gandalf is certainly a wizard. He’s perceived as a wise person that everyone seeks for advice. He is good and thinks about making everything right. His direct enemy, Sauron, is most likely a warlock or a sorcerer.

What Is The Difference Between A Wizard And A Warlock In Harry Potter?

The term warlock is not commonly used in Harry Potter books. Yet, when it is used, it is used to describe an especially strong and skilled wizard. Dumbledore itself was Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. Therefore, wizards and warlock are the same in the Harry Potter universe, but warlock is used for stronger wizards. However, the words can be and are used interchangeably in this narrative.

James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.