Kraken are mythical sea monsters of gargantuan size, said to have dwelt off the coasts of Norway and Iceland. The sheer size and fearsome appearance attributed to the beasts have made them common ocean-dwelling monsters in various fictional works . The legend may actually have originated from sightings of real giant squid that are variously estimated to grow to 13–15 m (40–50 ft) in length, including the tentacles. These creatures normally live at great depths, but have been sighted at the surface and have reportedly attacked ships.
Kraken is the definite article form of krake, a Scandinavian word designating an unhealthy animal, or something twisted. In modern German, Krake (plural and declined singular: Kraken) means octopus, but can also refer to the legendary Kraken.
The Kraken is the fabled sea monster said to have been sighted frequently off the coast of Norway; it was apparently quite capable of dragging the largest ships to the bottom and simply by submerging itself it could suck a vessel to its doom by means of the whirlpool it thereby created. Brewer says that the Kraken was first described by Erik Pontoppidan in his Natural History of Norway (1752; Pontoppidan, 1698–1764, was bishop of Bergen at the time). “Kraken” is probably from the Old Swedish kraken and the Danish krage, stump or stem of a tree, from a claimed resemblance to the infamous and decidedly uncouth monster. Pontopiddan described this creature as “a mile and a half wide.” Clearly, even allowing for regional variations in what constituted a proper Christian mile, this was a beast of no mean proportions.
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