Fairy or Faerie - a super-natural being, fond of pranks, but generally pleasing. Of nursery mythology they are the personification of Providence. The good ones are called fairies, elves, elle-folks, and fays; the evil ones are urchins, ouphes, ell-maids, and ell-women. Alternate spellings include: Faerie, Fai, Faierie, Faiery, Fair, Fairye, Farie, Fary, Fay, Fayerie, Fayery, Fayry, Fee, Feiri, Fery, Fey, Feyrie, Feyrye, Phairie, Pharie, Pherie (from the Latin: Fata "Fates").
NOUN; pl. Fairies. [OE. fairie, faierie, enchantment, fairy folk, fairy, OF. faerie enchantment, F. f['e]er, fr. LL. Fata one of the goddesses of fate.
A diminutive supernatural creature, generally in human form, dwelling in an imaginary region called fairyland; and the stories of its interventions through magic in mortal affairs. The term fairy is also loosely applied to such beings as brownies, gnomes, elves, nixies, goblins, trolls, dwarfs, pixies, kobolds, banshees, sylphs, sprites, and undines. The folk imagination not only conceives of fairyland as a distinct domain, but also imagines fairies as living in everyday surroundings such as hills, trees, and streams and sees fairy rings, fairy tables, and fairy steeds in natural objects. The belief in fairies was an almost universal attribute of early folk culture. In ancient Greek literature the sirens in Homer's Odyssey are fairies, and a number of the heroes in his Iliad have fairy lovers in the form of nymphs. The Gandharvas (celestial singers and musicians), who figure in Sanskrit poetry, were fairies, as were the Hathors, or female genii, of ancient Egypt, who appeared at the birth of a child and predicted the child's future.
1. Enchantment; illusion. [Obs.] --Chaucer. The God of her has made an end, And fro this worlde's fairy Hath taken her into company. --Gower. 2. The country of the fays; land of illusions. [Obs.] He [Arthur] is a king y-crowned in Fairy. --Lydgate. 3. An imaginary supernatural being or spirit, supposed to assume a human form (usually diminutive), either male or female, and to meddle for good or evil in the affairs of mankind; a fay. See Elf, and Demon. a: small, human in form, playful, having magical powers [syn: fairy, faerie, sprite] b: the enchanted realm of fairies [syn: fairyland, faerie]
The fourth kind of spirit [is] called the Fairy. --K. James. And now about the caldron sing, Like elves and fairies in a ring. --Shak. 4. An enchantress. [Obs.] --Shak.
Fairy of the mine, an imaginary being supposed to inhabit mines, etc. German folklore tells of two species; one fierce and malevolent, the other gentle. No goblin or swart fairy of the mine Hath hurtful power over true virginity. --Milton.
ADJECTIVEj : or or pertaining to or resembling (especially in delicacy) a fairy or fairies [syn: fairy, fearie]
1a. Having or displaying an otherworldly, magical, or fairylike aspect or quality: She's got that fey look as though she's had breakfast with a leprechaun (Dorothy Burnham). b. Having visionary power; clairvoyant. c. Appearing touched or crazy, as if under a spell. 2.Scotsa. Fated to die soon. b. Full of the sense of approaching death.
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English feie, fated to die, from Old English.
WORD HISTORY: The history of the words fey and fay illustrates a rather fey coincidence. Our word fay, fairy, elf, the descendant of Middle English faie, a person or place possessed of magical properties, and first recorded around 1390, goes back to Old French fae, fairy, the same word that has given us fairy. Fae in turn comes from Vulgar Latin Fata, the goddess of fate, from Latin fatum, fate. If fay goes back to fate, so does fey in a manner of speaking, for its Old English ancestor meant fated to die. The sense we are more familiar with, magical or fairylike in quality, seems to have arisen partly because of the resemblance in sound between fay and fey.
NOUN: [Latin. fatum, a prophetic declaration, oracle, what is ordained by the gods, destiny, fate, French. fari to speak: cf. OF. fat. See Fame, Fable, Ban, and cf. 1st Fay, Fairy.] 1. A fixed decree by which the order of things is prescribed; the immutable law of the universe; inevitable necessity; the force by which all existence is determined and conditioned. Necessity and chance Approach not me; and what I will is fate. --Milton. Beyond and above the Olympian gods lay the silent, brooding, everlasting fate of which victim and tyrant were alike the instruments. --Froude. 2. Appointed lot; allotted life; arranged or predetermined event; destiny; especially, the final lot; doom; ruin; death. Our wills and fates do so contrary run That our devices still are overthrown. --Shak. The whizzing arrow sings, And bears thy fate, Antinous, on its wings. --Pope. 3. The element of chance in the affairs of life; the unforeseen and unestimated conditions considered as a force shaping events; fortune; esp., opposing circumstances against which it is useless to struggle; as, fate was, or the fates were, against him. Sometimes an hour of Fate's serenest weather strikes through our changeful sky its coming beams. --B. Taylor. 4. pl. [L. Fata, pl. of fatum.] (Myth.) The three goddesses, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, sometimes called the Destinies, or Parc[ae]who were supposed to determine the course of human life. They are represented, one as holding the distaff, a second as spinning, and the third as cutting off the thread.