The word "sprite" is derived from the Latin "spiritus" (spirit), via the French "esprit". Variations on the term include "spright" and the Celtic "spriggan". The term is chiefly used in regard to elves and fairies in European folklore, and in modern English is rarely used in reference to spirits.
Belief in sprites
The belief in diminutive beings such as sprites, elves, fairies, etc. has been common in many parts of the world, and might to some extent still be found within neo-spiritual and religious movements such as "neo-druidism" and Ásatrú.
In some elemental magics, the sprite is often believed to be the elemental of air (see also sylph).
A water sprite (also called a water fairy or water faery) is a general term for an elemental spirit associated with water, according to alchemist Paracelsus. Water sprites are said to be able to breathe water or air and sometimes can fly. They are mostly harmless unless threatened.
These creatures exist in mythology of various groups. Ancient Greeks knew water nymphs in several types such as naiads (or nyads), which were divine entities that tended to be fixed in one place and so differed from gods or physical creatures. Slavic mythology knows them as vilas.
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- Briggs, Katharine M. (1976). A Dictionary of Fairies. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 381. ISBN 0-14-004753-0.
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- Simpson, Jacqueline (2000). A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198607663.