A monster is any of a large number of legendary creatures which usually appear in mythology, legend, or horror fiction. The word originates from the ancient Latin monstrum, meaning "omen", from the root of monere ("to warn") and also meaning "prodigy" or "miracle".
The term "monster" refers to a being that is a gross exception to the norms of some ecosystem. Usually characterized by an ability to destroy human life or humanity, more than an example of "survival of the fittest", natural law, or innate evil. A person referred to as a monster is taken as exceptionally evil, grotesque, unreasonably strict and uncaring, sociopathic, and/or sadistic. The word monster connotes something wrong/evil; e.g.: a monstrous being is: very morally objectionable, physically or psychologically hideous, or a biological sport (a distinct sense of the word), i.e a freak of nature.
Universal Studios specialized in monsters, with Bela Lugosi's reprising his stage role, Dracula, and Boris Karloff playing Frankenstein's monster. The studio also made several lesser films, such as Man-Made Monster, starring Lon Chaney, Jr. as an electrically reanimated zombie.
Werewolves were introduced in films during this period, and similar creatures were presented in Cat People. Mummies were cinematically depicted as fearsome monsters as well. As for giant creatures, the Flash Gordon serial used a costumed actor (with crude special effects) to depict a large dragon. The cinematic monster cycle eventually wore thin, having a comedic turn in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
Britain's Hammer Film Productions brought colour to the monster movies in the late 1950s. Around this time, the earlier Universal films were usually shown on American television by independent stations (rather than network stations) by using announcers with strange personae, who gained legions of young fans. Although they have since changed considerably, movie monsters did not entirely disappear from the big screen as they did in the late 1940s.
Occasionally, monsters are depicted as friendly or misunderstood creatures. The creatures of Monsters Inc. scare children in order to create energy for running machinery, while the furry monsters of The Muppets and Sesame Street live in harmony with animals and humans alike. Frankenstein's Monster is frequently depicted in this manner, in films such as Monster Squad and Van Helsing.
During Halloween, monster images are used in costumes for children, who will often dress like popular monsters from films and television shows.
Monsters have appeared in the "news" stories of popular tabloids such as the Weekly World News and The National Enquirer.
In heavy metal and Gothic rock, frequent references are made to monsters. The Finnish band Lordi, who rose to international fame in 2006 after winning the Eurovision Song Festival Contest, wear monster costumes with hideous masks.