In folkloristics, folk belief or folk-belief is a broad genre of folklore that is often expressed in narratives, customs, rituals, foodways, proverbs, and rhymes. It also includes a wide variety of behaviors, expressions, and beliefs. Examples of concepts included in this genre are magic, popular belief, folk religion, planting signs, hoodoo, conjuration, charms, root work, taboos, old wives' tales, omens, portents, the supernatural and folk medicine.
Folk belief and associated behaviors are strongly evidenced among all elements of society, regardless of education level or income. In turn, folk belief is found in an agricultural, suburban, and urban environments alike.
One of a variety of compounds extending from the coinage of the term folklore in 1846 (previously popular antiquities), the term folk-belief is first evidenced in use by British folklorist Laurence Gomme in 1892.
Common parlance employs the word superstition for what folklorists generally refer to as folk belief. A proponent of this conceptualization includes Alan Dundes, the American folklorist who proposed that the term as superstition denote traditional expressions that have conditions and results, signs and causes. There are also those who include in the term's coverage the belief narratives such as legends, which are differentiated from folktales in the sense that they are believable for telling stories about human beings who lived in the recent past.
- McCormick, Charlie; White, Kim Kennedy (2011). Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, Second Edition. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 211. ISBN 9781598842418.
- Green (1997:89).
- Green (1997:97).
- "folk, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 3 November 2016. See also "folklore, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, September 2016. Web. 3 November 2016.
- For example, see discussion in Georges & Jones (1995:122).
- Sims, Martha; Stephens, Martine (2011-10-15). Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and Their Traditions. University Press of Colorado. ISBN 9781457174568.
- Henderson, Lizanne (2016). Witchcraft and Folk Belief in the Age of Enlightenment: Scotland, 1670-1740. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 32. ISBN 9781349593132.
- Georges, Robert A. & Jones, Michael Owen. 1995. Folkloristics: An Introduction. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253329345.
- Green, Thomas A. 1997. Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO.