The term sprite is a broad term referring to a number of supernatural legendary creatures. The term is generally used in reference to elf-like creatures, including fairies, and similar beings (although not earth beings), but can also signify various spiritual beings, including ghosts. In Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books, sprites are a race of fairies with green skin and wings. In The Spiderwick Chronicles, sprites are creatures that resemble insects or flowers.
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
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).
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 in some cases, 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 very 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.
- ^ Briggs, Katherine M. (1976). A Dictionary of Fairies. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin. p. 381. ISBN 0-14-004753-0.