Brewer's: Fairies

good and bad.

AFREET or EFREET, one of the Jinn tribe, of which there are five. (See Story of the Second Calendar.) APPARITION. A ghost.

ARIEL. (See Ariel.)

BANSHEE or BENSHEE, an Irish fairy attached to a house. (See Banshee.) BOGGART. (Scotch.) A local hobgoblin or spirit.

BOGIE or BOGLE, a bugbear (Scotch form of bug). (See Bogie.) BROWNIE, a Scotch domestic fairy; the servants friend if well treated. (See Brownie.) BUG or BUGBEAR, any imaginary thing that frightens a person. (Welsh, bwg. (See Bug.) CAULD LAD ( The), the Brownie of Hilton Hall. (See Cauld Lad.)

DJINN, JIN, or GINN (Arabian).(See Jinn.)

DUENDE (3 syl.), a Spanish house-spirit.(See Duende.) DWARE, a diminutive being, human or superhuman. (Anglo-Saxon, dweorg.) DWERGER, DWERGUGH, or DUERGAR, Gotho-German dwarfs, dwelling in rocks and hills. (Anglo-Saxon,dweorgh.)

ELF (plu. ELVES), fairies of diminutive size, supposed to be fond of practical jokes. (Anglo-Saxon, ælf. (See Elf.)


ESPRIT FOLLET, the house-spirit of France.

FAIRY or FAERIE (plu. FAIRIES), a supernatural being, fond of pranks, but generally pleasing. (German and French, fee.)

FAMILIAR (A, an evil spirit attendant on witches, etc. ( See Familiar.) FATA, an Italian fay, or white lady.

FATES, the three spirits (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) which preside over the destiny of every individual. (Latin, fata.)

FAY (plu. FAYS), same as Fairy (q.v..)

FEAR DEARG (The), i.e. Red Man. A house-spirit of Munster. GENII (plu.). The sing. genie and genius. Eastern spirits, whether good or bad, who preside over a man or nation. “He is my evil [or good] genius.” (Latin, genius. (See Genius.)

GHOST, the immaterial body or noumenon of a human being. Supposed to be free to visit the earth at night-time, but obliged to return to its Hades at the first dawn.

GHOUL, a demon that feeds on the dead. (Persian.)

GNOME (1 syl.), the guardian of mines, quarries, etc. (Greek, gnóme a Cabalistic being.) (See Gnomes.) GOBLIN or HOBGOBLIN, a phantom spirit. (French, gobelin; German, kobold.)

GOOD FOLK (The). The Brownies or house-spirits.

GUARDIAN-ANGEL, an angelic spirit which presides over the destiny of each individual. HABUNDIA, queen of the White Ladies.

HAG (A), a female fury. Milton (Comus 445) speaks of “blue meagre hags.” H AMADRYAD, a wood-nymph. Each tree has its own wood-nymph, who dies when the tree dies. HOBGOBLIN. (See above, GOBLIN.) Hob is Robin,as Hodge is Roger.

HORNS or HORNIE, the Devil. (See Hornie.)

IMP, a puny demon or spirit of mischief. (Welsh, imp.) JACK-A-LANTERN, a bog or marsh spirit who delights to mislead. JINN or GINN. (See Jinn.) These Arabian spirits were formed of “smokeless fire.” KELPIE (2 syl.). In Scotland, an imaginary spirit of the waters in the form of a horse. (See Kelpie.) KOBOLD, a German household goblin, also frequenting mines. (German, kobold. ) (See Kobold.)

LAMIA (plu. LAMIÆ), a hag or demon. Keats's Lamia is a serpent which had assumed the form of a beautiful woman, beloved by a young man, and gets a soul. (Latin, Lamia.) (See Lamies.)

LAMIES, African spectres, having the head of a woman and tail of a serpent. (See Lamia.) LAR (plu. LARES) (2 syl.), Latin household deities. (See Lares.)

LEPRECHAUN, a fairy shoemaker.

MAB, the faries' midwife. Sometimes incorrectly called queen of the fairies. (Welsh, mab.) (See Mab.) MANDRAKE. (See Mandrake.)

MERMAID, a sea-spirit, the upper part a woman and the lower half a fish. MERROWS, both male and female, are spirits of the sea, of human shape from the waist upwards, but from the waist downwards are like a fish. The females are attractive, but the males have green teeth, green hair, pig's eyes, and red noses. Fishermen dread to meet them.

MONACIELLO or LITTLE MONK, a house-spirit of Naples.

NAIAD (plu. NAIADES [3 syl.] or NAIADS [2 syl.]), water-nymphs. (Latin.) (See Naiads.) NIS or NISSE (2 syl.), a Kobold or Brownie. A Scandinavian fairy friendly to farmhouses. (Contraction of Nicolaus.)

NIX (female, NIXIE), a water-spirit. The nix has green teeth, and wears a green hat; the nixie is very beautiful.

OBERON, king of the fairies.

OGRE [pronounce og'r], an inhabitant of fairyland said to feed on infant children. (French.) OREADS, mountain nymphs. (Greek, oros.)

OUPHE (2 syl.), a fairy or goblin.

PERI, a Persian fairy. Evil peris are called “Deevs.” PIGWIDGEON, a fairy of very diminutive size.

PIXY or PIXIE (also pisgy, pisgie), a Devonshire fairy, same as Puck. POUKE (1 syl.), same as Puck. (See Pouke.)

PUCK, a merry little fairy spirit, full of fun and harmless mischief. (Icelandic and Swedish, puke.) (See Puck.)

ROBIN- GOODFELLOW, another name for PUCK. (See Robin ...) SALAMANDER, a spirit which lives in fire. (Latin and Greek, salamandra.) (See Salamandra.) SHADES, ghosts.

SPECTRE, a ghost,

SPOOK (in Theosophy), an elemental.

SPRITE, a spirit.

STROMKARL, a Norwegian musical spirit, like Neck. (See Stromkarl.) SYLPH, a spirit of the air; so named by the Rosicrucians and Cabalists. (Greek, silphe, French, sylphide.) (See Sylphs.)

TRITON, a sea deity, who dwells with Father Neptune in a golden palace at the bottom of the sea. The chief employment of tritons is to blow a conch to smooth the sea when it is ruffled.

TROLL, a hill-spirit. Hence Trolls are called Hill-people or Hill-folk, supposed to be immensely rich, and especially dislike noise. (See Trolls.)

UNDINE (2 syl.), a water-nymph. (Latin, unda.) (See Undine.) URCHIN properly means a hedgehog, and is applied to mischievous children and small folk generally. (See Urchin.)

VAMPIRE (2 syl.), the spirit of a dead man that haunts a house and sucks the blood of the living. A Hungarian superstition. (See Vampire.)

WERE-WOLF (Anglo-Saxon, wer-wulf, man-wolf), a human being, sometimes in one form and sometimes in another. (See WereWolf.)


WHITE LADY (The) of the royal family of Prussia. A “spirit” said to appear before the death of one of the family. (See White Lady.)

WHITE LADY OF AVENEL (2 syl.), a tutelary spirit.

WHITE LADY OF IRELAND (The, the banshee or domestic spirit of a family.) WHITE MERLE (The), of the old Basques. A white fairy bird, which, by its singing, restored sight to the blind.)

WIGHT, any human creature, as a “Highland wight.” Dwarfs and all other fairy creatures. WILL-O'-THE-WISP, a spirit of the bogs, whose delight is to mislead belated travellers.

WRAITH (Scotch), the ghost of a person shortly about to die or just dead, which appears to survivors, sometimes at a great distance off. ( See Wraith, Household Spirits.)


are the dispossessed spirits which once inhabited human bodies, but are not yet meet to dwell with the “saints in light.”

All those airy shapes you now behold Were human bodies once, and clothed with earthly mould; Our souls, not yet prepared for upper light, Till doomsday wander in the shades of night.

Dryden: The Flower and the Leaf.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894

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