Sprite (creature)

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Grouping Legendary creature
First reported In folklore
Region Europe

A sprite is a supernatural legendary creature. They are often depicted as fairy, ghost and/or elf-like creatures.[1]

The word "sprite" is derived from the Latin "spiritus" (spirit). Variations on the term include "spright" (the origin of the adjective "sprightly", meaning "spirited" or "lively") 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 or other mythical creatures.

Belief in sprites[edit]

The belief in diminutive beings such as sprites, tree spirits, elves, fairies, pixies, gnomes, Japanese yōkai, the Spanish and Latin-American duende and various Slavic fairies 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. The belief in spiritual beings, particularly ghosts, is almost universal to human culture.

In some elemental magics, the sprite is often believed to be the elemental of air (see also sylph).

Water sprite[edit]

The prince thanking the Water sprite, from The Princess Nobody by Andrew Lang
For the plant species, see Ceratopteris thalictroides (given an honourable name for its purpose in hydroculture.)

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 guarded the fresh water bodies for the gods. These fairies are joyful, spirited and cannot be insulted or emotionally hurt, while Slavic mythology knows them as vilas.

In elemental classifications, water sprites should not be confused with other water creatures considered to be "corporeal beings" such as selkies and mermaids.[citation needed]

Elemental sprites include those of the water, fire, earth, air, and even many plant types as well.

See also[edit]

Knut Ekwall, A siren pulls a fisherman underwater.


  1. ^ Briggs, Katharine M. (1976). A Dictionary of Fairies. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 381. ISBN 0-14-004753-0. 

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