The word warlock also sometimes written as warluck, or warlow is commonly thought to derive from Old English word wǣrloga meaning oathbreaker, betrayer, and traitor. Wǣr meaning truth, faith, pledge, oath, covenant, truce, pact, and/or promise, and loga meaning liar, and/or breaker. Warlock was given special application to refer to the devil in 1000, which associated him with the term, and made one of the meanings of warlock to be devil, or fiend. It was first used in the 13th century to denote a person who was thought to be in league with the devil, and it being used to refer to an evil practitioner of magick started in the 14th century. The meaning of the word warlock for a male which started in 1560, and was Also a part of the Scottish usage. It is also thought that later Hollywood and the fantasy genre helped popularize its connection to a male practitioner of witchcraft.

Because of its history it has been used in Wicca, Neo-wicca, and Neo-paganism as a term for someone who went against their tradition, coven, or people, and because of that they find the term derogatory. Some practitioners have chosen to reclaim this title, and have used it to represent their practice. Usually connecting it with the understanding of being a male practitioner of witchcraft, or to denote them breaking away from a another tradition, or path.

Some scholars believe the term warlock could be derived from the Norse Vardlokkur, who is someone who uses a certain type of seidhr that involves singing, though this has been criticized by other scholars.

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