Within the pages of ancient fairy tales and fables, all sorts of mythical and magical creatures — both good and bad — live their lives and enchant our dreams. There are sweet fairies that spread pixie dust. Of course, there are also huge, hideous monsters that feed on human beings, too.

What are we talking about? Ogres, of course! If you’ve seen any of the Shrek movies, you might have a mental image of what an ogre looks and acts like. Shrek isn’t your typical ogre from mythology, though!

Ogres have existed in mythology and folklore for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Although they have been depicted in many ways, they’re almost always very large and human-like. In artwork, they’re often pictured with huge bodies, large heads, and lots of hair.

The idea of ogres may have gotten its start way back when prehistoric humans known as Neanderthals roamed Earth. Ogres are often categorized with other large, beastly creatures, such as giants, Cyclops and trolls.

The origin of the word “ogre” is a mystery. Most experts agree it’s a word of French origin. Some believe it’s derived from Hongrois, which means Hungarian. Others believe it comes from an Italian word — orco — that means “demon.” Still others believe ogre refers to mythical giants Gog or Magor or even an ancient Greek river god named Oiagros.

Whatever the origin of ogres, they’ve been around in literature for a long, long time. Ogres tend to be dim-witted, unpleasant creatures who don’t like humans. They’re often found in woodland settings, such as forests, so Shrek’s swamp home isn’t far off the mark. You’ll also find ogres in caves and high mountain peaks.

They can also often be found hiding under bridges, like trolls, and attacking castles in search of humans. Given their brutal nature, ogres are often thought of as being male. However, there is also such a thing as a female ogre, known as an ogress! Of course, if you’re a Shrek fan, you already knew that!

Ogres have been featured in famous works of fantasy and science fiction, including the works of popular authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Ogres often make appearances in modern fantasy and role-playing video games, too.

56 Join the Discussion

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  1. The words that stuck out to me were Hungarian and Cyclops and J.R.R Tolkien isn’t he the person who wrote The Hobbit? And I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is How can you think of good ideas? :D

    • Thanks for telling us about the cool vocab words you learned today, Annie 402! What a great memory– J.R.R. Tolkien sure did write The Hobbit! Have you read that awesome book?

      We like your prediction for tomorrow’s Wonder, too! You have done a SUPER job of using your WONDERful imagination today! :)

  2. I love the movie Shrek, when I was two I played the movie Shrek over, and over until it can’t play again.
    But I still have all the movies of Shrek.

    :) KyleBuskus :)

    • Thanks for sharing your cool connection to today’s Wonder, KyleBuskus! Shrek is a great movie, we love all the characters in it! We bet Fiona really helped tidy up the swamp home after she and Shrek got married! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! You’ve been a Shrek fan for quite a while! :)

  3. We knew that Ogres live in swamps from the movie Shrek. We also knew that they live in fairytales.

    Darrius thinks that tomorrow’s Wonder will be about making plans. He knows that having a plan is a great idea!

    • HOORAY, the Third Grade All-Stars are back! We’re so glad you’re WONDERing with us today! :) Ogres are super cool creatures to Wonder about; we Wonder if you can create a short story about a family of ogres? Where would they live? What do they do? Do they have neighbors? :)

      Thank you for sharing your super prediction for tomorrow’s Wonder, Darrius! Keep your ears open! :)

  4. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I liked the tape today. I grew up watching Shrek I liked it a lot. I thought it was interesting that ogres are real. I like this website for getting interesting information. Thanks for the information :)


    • Thanks for sharing your comment today, Jacob! Shrek is great, isn’t it? We really like to hear that you learned some cool new things with us today! Nice work, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Hey there, Alex, thanks for WONDERing with us today! We love learning about the origins of different words, especially when they’ve been used for hundreds of years! Orco is the Italian word for demon, but many believe that the word ogre is a French word! Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend! :)

  5. Hi Wonderopolis,

    We like the part when Donkey found Shrek and he talks so much! We like the part when Donkey asks to stay!
    We predict tomorrow’s wonder will be about getting an idea, a scientist, or an inventor.

    • Donkey always has us cracking up with laughter, too, Froggy 1! We like the relationship between Donkey and Shrek; they become life long friends, but it took some time to get there. Shrek wasn’t too happy that Donkey invited himself into his home in the beginning! :)

      Thank you for sharing your awesome predictions for tomorrow, Wonder Friends! We can almost hear the Wonder now! :)

    • Great question, Ms. Burns’ Class! Ogres have lots of things to do throughout the day, including foraging the swamp and forest for food, so that is one way they stay in shape! We Wonder what other types of daily activities are also ways that an ogre can exercise? We Wonder if they would have an electricity in the forest… they could plug in a treadmill! :)

    • We’re so glad you have been laughing with us, Diamond Divas! Today’s Wonder made us smile, and we learned a lot about the history of these mythical creatures called ogres! We bet a friend like Shrek would be a lot of fun to have around! We might have to help them fix up their home, though! :)

  6. I thought this article is very interesting. I think the next WONDER will be about a scientist like Einstein.

    • Hey Josh, thanks for sharing your comment today! We are so happy to know that you liked our ogre Wonder today- it’s always fun to use our imagination and picture where an ogre might live! What a great prediction for tomorrow’s Wonder– thank you for visiting us! :)

  7. Bonjour!

    We liked the Shrek video. It was funny! We loved today’s wonder. We have read that ogres came from Norse myths and that they eat bad children- so you better not be bad! Ogres are like an evil Santa Clause

    We think tomorrow’s wonder is about sound traveling to the mind.

    Ms. G’s Class

    • Hola, Ms. G’s Class! We really enjoy your summary of all you learned today from the Wonder! We know that our Wonder Friends in Ms. G’s class don’t have to worry about ogres, they’re all SUPER! :)

      Today’s Wonder made us chuckle, and we liked learning about the history of ogres, too. How cool that you already knew about Norse myths! Thanks for sharing your comments and predictions… tomorrow’s Wonder is going to sound lovely! :)

  8. I don’t believe that orges are real. The only place that they are is the movie Shrek. I don’t think kids should believe in orges.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your comment with us, Doug! We are glad you enjoy Shrek, the coolest ogre around! We’re glad you’ve been WONDERing with us today! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friends Donkey and Bob! We’re so glad you visited us today– this Wonder is all about your awesome friend Shrek! We bet it took some time to get used to one another, but in the end, we know you’re still great friends! Thanks for sharing your comments as we celebrate ogres today! :)

  9. Thoughts, Connections, Questions: David- I’ve seen Shrek before. Bryan- Can ogres have triplets? Elijah- What do ogres eat? Atlas- The video was hilarious! Hayden- I believe that the ogres are not real.
    I (Mrs. VanDusen) was saying that I really love the movie Shrek and want to go home and watch it tonight, lol (Atlas told me to add this)!

    Predictions: Erica- How do you brainstorm? Elijah- Who thought of the Eiffel Tower? Hayden- Does brainstorming help you with problems? Bryan- How do you make a Big Mac? David- Who made MySpace?
    Stephanie- How does your brain work? Christian- How much do scientists know about the brain? Sierra- How does your thought process work? Gabrielle- How does the human body work? Atlas- Who made Instagram? Jovon- How do you make an xBox?

    Samantha was also WONDERing how many people respond to our Wonders every day. Hayden was also WONDERing how Wonderopolis got started.

    • YOWZA! Our Wonder Friends in Mrs. VanDusen’s Class have been hard at work today– so much WONDERing! :) We hope you all had a great time WONDERing about the life of ogres (even if they only exist in awesome movies like Shrek)! We bet you can use your imaginations to answer some of your questions from today. What would like be like with an ogre family, especially if they have triplets?!

      We are excited about all the brainstorming that went on today to come up with these awesome predictions!

      A very big THANK YOU to David, Bryan, Elijah, Atlas, Hayden, Mrs. VanDusen, Erica, Stephanie, Christian, Sierra, Gabrielle, Jovon, and Samantha! YOU ROCK! Wonderopolis started more than two years ago– we celebrated our second birthday last October 4! We are always WONDERing, so why not start a cool site to share awesome ideas?! We have lots of Wonder Friends who take turns responding to your awesome comments! It all depends! :)

  10. Obviously I do not know if ogres still live. Shrek, an ogre from the movie does, but I don’t think he is real though. Ogres live in forests and caves. It would be cool to see a real ogre in real life.

    • Hey there, Aaron! Thanks for sharing your awesome comment with us today! We like thinking about fairy tale creatures… who knows, perhaps they could be real? We would love to meet Shrek, he seems like the coolest ogre around, if you ask us! We Wonder what kind of house warming gift we would bring him if he invited us to dinner…? :)

    • Not to worry, Wonder Friend Junior! We’ve got plenty of Wonders for you to enjoy. We’re sorry to hear that this Wonder wasn’t your favorite, but we bet we have a category of Wonders for you to enjoy! :)

    • Hey there, Digis10! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! We are glad you asked that question- what a great one! Ogres are known to be grumpy (and sometimes mean) creatures, so that may be why everyone is looking to hunt Shrek. But you know the movie. Shrek is a really nice person, he’s just misunderstood. Remember, ogres are like onions! Once you peel back the layers, you see their true spirit! :)

    • That’s a SUPER guess, Timothy! We like imagining where they would live… we Wonder if they have neighbors? :)

  11. Katie : Ogres live in your imagination.
    John: one lives in my backyard!!!
    That was feedback from two of my students, our class enjoyed this wonder…

    • Hey there, Katie and John from Mr. Jensens Class! Thanks for sharing your awesome comments with us! We’re so happy your using your WONDERful imaginations to answer our Wonder of the Day®! Katie, is your ogre friendly? John, we Wonder if your backyard ogre ever knocks on your door and has dinner with your family? HOORAY for you, Wonder Friends! :)

  12. I love that movie! It’s really funny. Thanks for putting that on there. I’m actually in that play. I’m baby bear.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment with us, Riolana! We hope you have a SUPER time in your Shrek play, baby bear! Break a leg! :)

  13. Eep! Ogres!
    I watched all the Shrek movies.
    Ogres in my opinion are always in myths and fairy tales, like Shrek, Shrek II, and Shrek forever after.
    But, ogres could be real.
    We need to send out some scientists to search for them! >:U

    • We love your enthusiasm, Kayleekitti :)! Ogres are pretty cool to Wonder about, and we’re glad you shared how many times you remember meeting ogres– in movies, in myths and in fairy tales! We haven’t seen any ogres around here, but we’ll keep our eyes and ears open just in case! Perhaps you’ll be an ogre researcher when you’re older! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Where do ogres live?
  • What is an ogre?
  • Can you create an ogre?

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Try It Out

Wasn’t today’s Wonder of the Day ogre-iffic? The fun doesn’t have to stop yet. Explore one or more of the following activities with a brave friend or family member:

  • What have ogres looked like throughout history? Jump online to check out Ogre Pictures to see some examples of how ogres have been pictured by different people. What do you think? Are some scarier than others? What type of story do you think would go with each ogre? Where do you think each of the ogres pictured would live?
  • Now that you’ve seen some pictures of ogres, do you have an idea of what they should look like? Or do you picture something different? What comes to mind when you hear the word “ogre”? Is it an image of Shrek? Or something much more hideous? Grab some art supplies and create your own unique version of the ogre that inhabits your mind. You can draw it, paint it, color it, build it, or sculpt it. It’s up to you. Be as creative as you want to be! When you’re finished, take a picture of your ogre and upload it to Facebook for all your Wonder Friends to see. We can’t wait to see what your ogre looks like!
  • Up for a challenge? Shrek is probably the most popular and least hideous ogre you’re likely to find. His animated movies are some of the most popular of all time. Animators did a great job of bringing Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and all their friends to vibrant life in the movies. If you’re curious about how they did it, jump online to read A Decade of Shrek Tech. You’ll learn how animation technology evolved over the course of the series of movies to bring you the cinematic treats so many have come to treasure. Have fun learning more about the behind-the-scenes technology that brought to life the world’s most famous ogre!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Fairy Tale Autobiographies lesson, children read and analyze fairy tales from several cultures, identifying common elements.

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