Sprite (folklore)

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GroupingLegendary creature

A sprite is a supernatural entity. They are often depicted as fairy-like creatures or as an ethereal entity.[1]

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.

The prince thanking the Water sprite, from The Princess Nobody: A Tale of Fairyland (1884) by Andrew Lang

Belief in sprites[edit]

In Knut Ekwall's The Fisherman and The Siren, a siren pulls a fisherman underwater.

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).

Water sprite[edit]

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[2] and so differed from gods or physical creatures. Slavic mythology knows them as vilas.

Water sprites differ from corporeal beings, such as selkies and mermaids, as they are not purely physical and are more akin to local deities than animals.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Briggs, Katharine M. (1976). A Dictionary of Fairies. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 381. ISBN 978-0-14-004753-0.
  2. ^ Rose, Herbert (1959). A Handbook of Greek Mythology. New York: E.P. Dutton & Co. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-525-47041-0.
  3. ^ Simpson, Jacqueline (2000). A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198607663.

External links[edit]