The Transylvanian vampire popularized in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897). The character is based on Vlad Ţepeş ("Vlad the Impaler"), the fifteenth-century voivode or prince of Wallachia who was renowned for his cruelty.

Vlad was named Drakula, Dracuglia, and Dragwly. Dracula is the Slavonic genitive form of Dracul and means "son of the dragon," after his father Vlad Dracul ("Vlad the Dragon"). Two letters from the late 1470s were signed by him as "Drakulya" or "Draculya." His house in Pécs, Hungary, was known as Drakwlya haza, "Dracula's house."

In modern Romanian dracul means "the devil."