I have recently come across the idea of a vampire's drudge: a slave to do a vampire's bidding. However, I have not been able to find the origin of it. In fact, the only references to it I am able to find are unsourced replies to generic questions on sites such as Wikianswers (the questions being of the nature "What is a vampire's slave?" and the answer being "A drudge"), fan-fictions and a series of fiction books called the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.

What I am looking for is the origin of the term "drudge". I understand the nature of the drudge -- the vampire's servant -- but I am looking for the origin of the actual term: did it come from mythology or is it the creation of an individual author and so on?

EDIT: I had made the connection between drudgery and drudge: it makes sense that a person designated to do hard or menial tasks could, from drudgery, be called a drudge; so I just want to stress I'm after the origin of using the word to mean a vampire's servant.

  • 1
    Wasn't Renfield in Stoker's book a drudge? I don't remember the exact word used in the book though.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 19:40
  • I haven't actually red Dracula. Renfield may have all the characteristics of a drudge (wouldn't know), doing Dracula's bidding and so forth; but a search for the word "drudge" on the e-book reveals zero results, so it definitely wasn't the term used.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 19:44
  • 2
    No, Renfield is never referred to as a "drudge". He is a madman who is under the influence of Dracula. He isn't Dracula's servant nor does anything truly useful either.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 19:59
  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a word in the English language that just happens to be used in a science fiction/fantasy setting.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:41
  • I believe some more modern vampire stories use the term "familiar" (which actually classically applied to a spirit and not a living being)
    – Monty129
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 22:57

3 Answers 3


A Drudge, according to the dictionary:

drudge 1 (drŭj) n. A person who does tedious, menial, or unpleasant work. intr.v. drudged, drudg·ing, drudg·es To do tedious, unpleasant, or menial work.

Vampires are well known for enjoying the finer side of life. Sipping blood, kidnapping virgins, those kinds of joyous activities. However, somebody has to keep the house clean, drag away the corpses and what not, activities a vampire clearly doesn't care for.

Enter the drudge!

As far as I can tell, the first use of the word 'drudge' for a vampire's servant is in the 'Chronicles of Vladimir Tod'. Other words people sometimes use for the (mostly) human servants of vampires are ghouls and thralls.

  • Thanks, Theik! Calling a servant a drudge is, based on the dic. def., an obvious connection to make; as someone who writes fantasy for friends and family (hence the question) I'd not feel right using a term belonging to one author, regardless of the obviousness of the connection, so thank you for clearing it up for me. Thank you extra for offering alternatives as Thrall led me into research of servants through history and to a term I like. So triple thanks to Theik!
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 19:05
  • As we know from Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum and later Discworld books, many vampires also employ an Igor for skilled laboratory work. And while a traditionalist vampire doesn't want the castle to be clean, he or she will insist on a high-quality arrangement of cobwebs and dust to maintain the right atmosphere. Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 9:15
  • @Theik: Shouldn't that be "the finer side of unlife"? :-) Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 9:17
  • @Royal Candaian Bandit: this is exactly why I asked. The idea of a vampire's servant is as old as they come but the term Drudge caught my interest. Having not read the Vladimir Tod books I wasn't sure if Drudge was anything specific either; it is interesting how some writers put their own spin on things, Pratchett being the prime example.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 13:11
  • Nancy Collins uses the term "Renfield" in her Sunglass After Dark books to refer to vampires slaves as an explicit reference to The original Renfield in Stoker's book.
    – nedlud
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 3:01

Drudge is not an invention of a recent author - the word comes from Middle English druggan, which is derived from the Old English dreogan - which is a verb meaning to perform (a service), or to suffer/bear/endure.

  • Yes, this is true, I am aware that the word Drudge was not invented by a recent author; but I was asking if the use of it in regards to a vampire's slave was.
    – Mac Cooper
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 13:03

I have read a lot of vampire books and I have actually never come across that word to describe a vampire's human servant. I think that was just the particular word choice of a few authors, not any kind of shift in nomenclature. I think the choice of the word drudge has more to do with the relationship between the vamp and his person in that world/story than anything else, because some vamps treat their humans really well and some treat them like dirt, and some don't keep people around at all. It just depends on the story.

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