Scholarly use of the term
In folklore, mythology and anthropology, therianthropy can be used to describe a character that shares some traits of humans and some of non-human animals. The most commonly known form is lycanthropy, from the Greek word lycos ("wolf"), the technical term for man-wolf transformations. Although the precise definition of lycanthropy specifically refers only to werewolves, the term is often used to refer to shape changing to any non-human animal form.
When people believe they change into an animal form (theriomorphosis), or possess supernatural non-human animal traits, the term clinical lycanthropy is often used. This classification is a form of mental illness, though many anthropologists would point out that the belief has extensive religious precedent in shamanic cultures.
Modern subcultural use of the term
In recent times, a subculture has developed that has adopted the word therianthropy to describe a sense of inner spiritual or psychological identification with a non-human animal. Persons who belong to that community are called therianthropes or therians and believe that while they have a human body, some important part of their mind, identity, or spirit is that of a non human animal. Some therianthropes refer to themselves as "lycanthropes" from lycanthropy.