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The word ghoul is often used nowadays as another word for either ghost or monster. The word is also used as an insult to describe people who others consider to take too much delight in macabre things, such as ghost stories and horror movies, or people who rely on death in order to earn a living, such as gravediggers and undertakers.
The word "ghoul" comes from the Arabic ghul which in turn comes from the Arabic ghala, meaning "to seize". In its original meaning, as used in The Thousand and One Nights and other Arabic folktales, a ghoul was a kind of man-eating monster, either a vampire-like creature which had once been human or an evil spirit. Ghouls were sometimes said to be the children of Iblis, the Devil himself. Ghouls were said to live in graveyards, deserts and other isolated locations. They were often said to be shapeshifters who could take on any form they chose, although they most often took on the shape of a hyena. They were sometimes said to take on the form of the last person they had eaten. According to Arabic folklore, ghouls tricked their victims by luring them into isolated spots where they would eat them. They were also sometimes said to steal from people or to drink their blood. Ghouls were sometimes said to prefer to eat women or young children but were not particularly fussy and would eat any human they could catch. If no live victim was available, a ghoul would simply dig up a corpse.