A-Z Dictionary of Fairies and the Wee Folk

Updated on June 28, 2018
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Kitty has been independently researching and studying the fae for over 15 years. She enjoys sharing what she's learned with her readers.

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A-Z Dictionary of Fairies

This is your one-stop shop for all terms and definitions related to fairies and the world of the fay. From letters A to Z, you will find fairies' terms and definitions right here in this article.

Alven: water fairies found in ponds in the Netherlands, though they don't have wings. They can, however, fly by being encased in bubbles and traveling on the winds. Main home is the River Elbe, as it is sacred to them. Small fairies, extremely light and sometimes shift into otters.

Ashrays: water fairies from Scotland that are mistaken for sea ghosts; have white bodies and look like a twenty-year-old human, both male and female. Nocturnal fairies, if sunlight hits them they will melt into a rainbow-colored pond of water.

Avalon: a mythological island in the Arthurian legends. The place where excalibur was forged and given to King Arthur, and also the place where King Arthur was taken after being wounded in a battle. Morgan Le Fay and Vivianne are said to have dwelled on the isle of Avalon.

Ballybog: (peat fairy ) ancient Irish fairies that protect the peatbogs of Ireland; very ugly in appearance, as they are covered in mud and they are completely round. Known as boggans in Northern England.

Banshee: (beansidhe, beannidhe, washer at the fords, washer-woman) a type of fairy that has been seen and heard in Ireland and Scotland for hundreds of years, usually believed to announce or warn of a death in some of the old Irish and Scottish families. When seen in Ireland, she is usually washing burial shrouds as a symbol for preparation for a burial. She looks different in each region where she has been seen. Some say she is a gorgeous woman, while others claim she looks more like a green hag with scraggly hair and long nails. The one distinguishable quality of the Banshee is her mourning wail, a piercing and eerie cry that can be heard miles away. Some are comforted by her wailing, while others are instilled with immediate fear.

Brownie: a benevolent house fairy thought to have come from Scotland to America by the Scottish immigrants. Associated with the element earth and are also known as a House Brownie or a Little Man. Supposed to pick a house with a nice and caring family in which to aid the woman of the house in her chores. They do so at night when everyone is sleeping. Some believe that brownies have the ability to shapeshift into domestic and farm animals such as a rooster.

Changeling: an ugly fairy child put in the place of a kidnapped human child.

Clurichaun: a cousin of the leprechaun who is usually dressed in red and guards a family's wine cellar. They choose their family wisely and pick a family who is ethical and kind to all life and never choose clergymen. Also known as the Monciello in Italy.

Devas: a type of fairy originating in Persia and Greece. Small fairies that appear as bright orbs of light that live in nature and are one with Mother Nature. Said to live in the woods and in conjunction with the natural vibrations around them.

Dryad: a type of fairy or tree spirit found in all old Celtic countries in Europe. The Celtic "Druids" are said to have gotten their names from the Dryads. Thought to be female fairies and live in the highest boughs of the 13 Celtic sacred trees. Said to have given their knowledge and secrets of magic to the Druids.

Elf: a type of fairy that has been seen all around the world. Their appearance changes from country to country, some say elves are tall and beautiful, while others claim them to be small and chubby. Most don't bother with humans, but as a general rule, trooping elves are good and solitary elves are usually malevolent. Seen in games and movies and books in modern times.

Gnomes: a type of fairy that are said to live among tree roots in deep forests. Belief originating from Scotland and brought to America by immigrants. Appear very old as they mature quickly and also look very much like dwarfs. Also usually wear pointed red hats with green or blue colored clothing. Gnomes are actually included in elemental magic, as a representation of the element earth. They are a type of elemental.

Heather Pixie: (moor sprites) a type of pixie fairy with beautifully delicate and translucent wings, seen in Scotland and England. Live in the moors and love the heather around the moors.

Irish Sea Water Guardians: a type of fairy originating in the Isle of Man. Water guardian fairies of small stature and are sacred to the Sea God Manann. They are said to be surrounded by a greenish blue light. Guard the Irish seas and are said to float on broken eggshells or surf on Irish seashells during storms. Particularly active during sea storms. Enjoy dolphins and sea life in general.

Kelpie: a type of fairy seen in Scotland and Ireland, associated with the water. Webfooted and ugly water spirits and aren't seen anymore. Some even believed them to be carnivorous and cannibalistic. They were said to snatch deer from the shoreline to eat, other fairies and even humans were eaten by kelpies. Shapeshifting was possible by the male kelpies, as they would shift into handsome human men to lure young women to the water in order to consume them.

Lady of the Lake: a type of fairy or possibly a Mother goddess who offered excalibur to King Arthur of Camelot. Said to live on Avalon or possibly under Dosmary Pool.

Leprechaun: a type of fairy who is a treasure hoarder and a cousin of the clurichaun. Lore says that they wear all green and work on shoes. Said to hide their cauldrons of gold and treasure at the end of a rainbow. If treasure is ever found, the leprechaun will also offer three wishes along with the pot of gold.

Merpeople: a type of water fairy seen worldwide. Commonly called mermaids or mermen and are half human-half fish creatures who reside in the oceans and seas throughout the world. Appear to be very beautiful creatures, both the men and the women. In many tales from sailors mermaids were said to lure ships to the rocks and to their deaths, but in other stories, mermaids were said to have rescued or tried to rescue drowning men. The mermaids are thought to interbreed with human men, but never the mermen with human women.

Nymphs: a type of fairy from Greece, said to be very seductive and are more of a classification of fairies. There are wood nymphs, water nymphs, tree nymphs, grove nymphs, etc. Have a reputation for being obsessed with sex, hence the term for someone addicted to sexual activity - nymphomaniac.

Pixie: a type of fairy that originates in Scotland but has been seen elsewhere. Usually depicted as small fairies with wings and heads too large for their tiny bodies. Pointy ears, noses, and highly defined eyebrows. Are usually friendly but tend to also be mischievous and like to play tricks on humans. They live in flower gardens and are attracted to all types of flowers. Pixie dust obviously comes from Pixies and is said to aid in flying. They hate human laziness and will pinch a lazy person to get him off of his bum.

Salamanders: a type of fairy most commonly known and seen as a fire elemental in magical workings. Salamanders appear as fiery lizards. Associated with the element fire and are known to aid in workings of passion and revenge.

Seelie Court: a classification of good fairies used in lowland Scottish folklore. They were said to ride on the wings of the heavens, on the highest waves of the winds and fight the Unseelie Court.

Selkie: a type of fairy that is a shapeshifter. A water fairy that has the ability to change from the appearance of a seal into a human being. Most of the legends told of women selkies who would be caught by a fisherman and made to be his wife, only to find her seal coat later on and take back to the sea, forever leaving her grieving husband and children behind on land.

Sprite: an elf fairy.

Will O'Wisp: a type of fairy that dances across lakes and bodies of water at night. The light that these fairies give off tends to look like a flickering candle or flickering orb of light. They have been seen all over the world.

Unseelie Court: these types of fairies are the opposites to the Seelie Court and tend to wage war against the Seelie Court fairies.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Nicole Canfield

    Comments

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    • profile image

      Timm Hermans 

      2 months ago

      Hi, I see that you have different fairies standing here. Im gonna give you a other one.

      Aubele: a little fairy who lives at the river the maas (belgium & the nederlands). It likes to repear thing like pots. On the otherside if you see it , it wil play tricks on you. And it doesnt like bells. It flies from the sound back to the river where it lives. (Its a old legend from the region I live in) by the way gnomes also live here in the woods we call them kabouters.

    • Lesley Milne profile image

      Lesley Milne 

      18 months ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Great article thank you :) I paint fairies (among other things) and this got my imagination swirling with ideas !

    • Tim Begg profile image

      Tim Begg 

      22 months ago from South Africa

      Hey there, kittythedreamer. Firstly, I found your dictionary very useful - Thank-you. I am particularly interested in Elves, having met one when I was a child - not in a dream, but in real life - and when I read your dictionary, I felt that I would like to share my experience with you. So here goes:

      I was about four years old, and we lived on a farm. The one side of my bedroom has where our linen cupboard was placed, and there were open shelves almost reaching the ceiling. We didn't have electricity as yet, so we used candles and paraffin lamps. My dad used to come to say good night to me, and blow out the candle next to my bed.

      One night, I was lying there waiting for him, when I noticed a small figure sitting on the top shelf - now I know this sounds like something out of 'Elf on a Shelf' - but I assure you, it's all true. When I looked closer, I realized that it was o little girl. I tried to speak to her, but just then my dad came in, and when I looked again, she was gone.

      Since then, I have always been fascinated by Elves, and would dearly love any information you may be able to give me, as I am busy doing research on them.

      Thanks again, and keep up the good work. Namárië - as the elves would say, and Anonle. May the leaves of your life tree never turn brown.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      2 years ago from Summerland

      Thank you, Sherrye.

    • Sherrye Barrow profile image

      Sherrye Barrow 

      2 years ago from Duncan, AZ

      Enjoy your dictionary...Thank you for writing it...Great reference material

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      3 years ago from Summerland

      Thanks, Villyvacker. I've written dozens of articles on the wee folk. :) It's one of my favorite topics.

    • villyvacker profile image

      Billy Turnock 

      3 years ago from Manchester England

      I am currently biting the table in frustration, because I didn't think of doing your hub first. It's excellent.

    • profile image

      Grace 

      5 years ago

      You don't have the Leanan Sidhe

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Thanks so much, Grace! Love meeting another friend of the fairies'. :)

    • Grace-Wolf-30 profile image

      Grace-Wolf-30 

      5 years ago from England

      Love this hub, I'm quite fond of fairies, and I may have seen one or two in my time too. Lovely read, very inspiring : )

    • khmazz profile image

      Kristen Mazzola 

      5 years ago from South Florida

      What a beautiful and fun hub! I loved this! great job!!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      GwennyOh - Thanks! Glad you enjoyed.

      agaglia - There's a lot of them, good luck! LOL. Thanks for reading. :)

    • agaglia profile image

      agaglia 

      5 years ago

      thanks for the informative hub. I loved it. I am planning to read all your fairy hubs.

    • GwennyOh profile image

      GwennyOh 

      5 years ago

      Lovely article kittythedreamer! I have never seen so much information on fairies in one place. I didn't know that there are so many different legends and names pertaining to them. Great job, thanks for sharing this!

    • lorddraven2000 profile image

      Sam Little 

      5 years ago from Wheelwright KY

      I really enjoyed this. I am often looking for ideas for stories and the such and this was a great little primer for using fairy folk. Thanks so much for posting it.

    • Willsummerdreamer profile image

      Will English. 

      5 years ago from Marietta, Georgia.

      Very interesting hub. I'm putting a fantasy series together that features fairies (or rather my own variation of them) and this could be a great resource of ideas for me to play with. So great hub there ^_^. *bookmarked, voted up and shared*

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Thanks, Beltane73! :)

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Very interesting. Thanks!

    • Beltane73 profile image

      Holly Kline 

      5 years ago from South Jersey

      Awesome! There are varieties here I've never heard of!

    • Ilona1 profile image

      Ilona 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      I found about about them when doing a study on my name: Ilona, Queen of the Tunderek :)

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Ilona1 - I'll have to look into the Hungarian Tunder, as I've never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ilona1 profile image

      Ilona 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      I wrote about Hungarian fairies over at Squidoo- why not add the Hungarian "Tündér" to your list?

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Glad it could help. :)

    • profile image

      anonymousbuddingauthor 

      5 years ago

      Wow, this is really helpful for an assignment (short piece of creative writing) that Ihave been set to do, very informative well done!!!!!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Demetre - Glad to have helped!

    • Demetre Winfield profile image

      Demetre A Winfield 

      5 years ago from chicago

      This is great. I learned some new things reading this. It actually proved helpful for the research I was doing.

    • MonetteforJack profile image

      MonetteforJack 

      6 years ago from Tuckerton, NJ

      Welcome,, kittythedreamer :) I really feel and think you should develop the third eye. Except that we both know my favorite fairy Tinkerbell isn't true, there are true, real fairies and they exist and is even mentioned in the Catholic bible. Maybe you have a calling; maybe your third eye can help not only and around you but many others, more than you ever imagine. You mentioned to Paradise 7 about your dream where you died and went to Heaven and came down as an angel complete with wings ... Well, I think it means you will encounter many challenges and overcome them and along the way, whether you know it or not, you are a positive encouragement to others. Like I said, keep writing because you got this great talent and sharing it makes others feel good and do better in life.

      postscript : This hub is a good guide to writers and all those interested in fairy stories.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Chatkath - Yes, there are many many more that I could have added here, at least another 30 kinds of fairies, believe it or not. :) Thanks for reading and voting, as always.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 

      6 years ago from California

      Kitty this is so interesting and so complete! I love fairies but never realized there was such an extensive list of "types". Great job!

      Rate up useful & interesting!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      MonetteforJack- Glad you thought it was cute, I appreciate that. And you're probably right about the third eye thing...in fact, I know you're right though I try to ignore it sometimes. Thanks for reading!

    • MonetteforJack profile image

      MonetteforJack 

      6 years ago from Tuckerton, NJ

      This hub is cute! I haven't come across a fairy dictionary yet. My favorite will always be Tinkerbell from Disney :) I thought though, the Lady of the Lake is like more like the queen of all water fairies and also in Catholic Religion, pertains to Mother Mary. Also, having vivid dreams means you are sensitive to our world and any other worlds. Kinda like having a third eye. Keep writing, kittythedreamer, you're very interesting to read!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Karkadin - I'm so happy you could use some of this in your fairy tales. I'd love to read some of them sometime! Let me know if you post one with one of these fairies included. :)

    • Karkadin profile image

      Karkadin 

      6 years ago from Middle of Nowhere, USA

      I love this hub! I study fairy tales and write my own modern versions. You have information in some of these definitions that I haven't heard before. Thanks for posting it. Voted up and across.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Paradise7 - Thanks, glad you found it so charming. :) I am definitely a dreamer...had a crazy dream last night, even. I dreamt that I was killed, went to heaven, and then returned to earth as an angel...complete with feathered wings! I have some seriously vivid dreams sometimes...

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, this is completely charming information! How I love fairies, all kinds. It sets my mind back to the wonder of a child. Thank you, Kitty. Dream on, friend, and share your dreams with us!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Nicole Canfield 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      writer20 - Thanks so much. I was hoping to provide a quick fairy dictionary for those who need it. :)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Wow! this a great hub helping people to writer fairy tales.

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