General Info
Cultural Origin {{{Cultural Origin}}}

Fairy, Faery or Fay (pl. Fairies, Faeries or Fas) refers to an infinite variety of mythical creatures.  Originating in European myth, "fairy" is an umbrella term describing a wide array of spirits, usually associated with nature. The term fairy has eventually been narrowed down and is now commonly associated with miniscule, winged creature possessing magical abilities. Fairies of all sorts are common in the fantasy genre, with their attributes and abilities being adapted countless times.

The concept of nature spirit fairies is similar to nymphs of Greco-Roman myth. An example of the wide-ranging meaning of "fairy", the epithet "le Fay" (the fairy) is given to a major character in the Arthurian legend; Morgana

Fairy Types

There are many different fairy races throughout mythology, mostly occurring in Norse-Germanic or Celtic myth.


Dwarves (plural "dwarfs" before J. R. R. Tolkien popularised "dwarves") were a humanoid race in Norse Mythology. They are usually depicted shorter, stockier, hairier than humans. They often had longer lifespans. They are usually associated with vast hoards of treasure, such as Andavri. Some of them turned to stone in the light, notably Alviss, who claimed Thor's daughter Thrud, as his wife.


Elves (plural "elfs" before J. R. R. Tolkien popularised "elves") were spirits of Norse Mythology. The "light elves" lived in Alfheim, while the dark elves, associated with trolls and dwarves, lived in Svartálfaheim. They were sometimes depicted with pointed ears.


Gnomes were dwarf-like fairies in Rennaissance Mythology. They dwelt underground. Gnomes were introduced into Renaissance folklore by Parcelsus. Modern garden gnomes depict gnomes as small, bearded men with pointy hats.


Goblins originated in medieval Anglo-Norman tales, benig small, mischeivous creatures similar to dwarves and brownies.


Leprecauns are the most well-known fairies in Irish Mythology. They are short humanoids, with their appearance varying on their location. They are associated with fashioning and cobbling shoes, as well as hiding their money in pots at the ends of rainbows.


Orcs originate from J. R. R. Tolkiens tails of Middle Earth, but are now stock characters in modern fantasy. In Tolkien's writings; the Orcs were bred from Elvish stock by the Dark Lord Morgoth. They still had the pointed ears of elves, but were otherwise completely different from their ancestors.  They were a ruined, terrible, and evil form of life. They can be considered fairies because of their relation to the elves, and because goblin (in Tolkien's writing) was the name of the underground breeds of Orc.


Sprites are elf-like fairies in many different mythologies. They are often depicted as having wings. The word sprite is derived from the Latin "spiritus", thus closely connected with the words spirit and sprightly.


Trolls are monsters in Norse Mythology. They turn to stone or blow up on exposure to sunlight. They are similar to Jotnar and reside in caves, mountains or dense forests. Trolls are often depicted guarding passages across waterways, such as bridges or shallow crossings.


Pixies are small, childish and often mischievous fairies originating in Celtic, specifically Cornish, myth.

In Popular Culture

Fairies of all sorts are frequently featured in the fantasy genre. The physical descriptions and attributes of these creatures is often adapted to suit the author. As a result, many sorts of fairies have been given similar attributes in different fantasy works that they have developed distinct characteristics, even stereotypes, such as leprechauns associated with hiding gold at the ends of rainbows.


  • Faeries (or fey/Fair Folk) are one of the four supernatural species of Downworld in the Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare.  Tbey are seperated into two factions,  the Seelie and Unseelie Courts. 

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