Leprechaun Origins

There are many different possible origins for the leprechaun in the Irish realm of faeries, sprites, and goblins, among the many others. Some scholars speculate on the subject that the word leprechaun came from the Irish word “leipreachán.” Patrick S. Dinneen, an Irish lexicographer and historian, defined the leipreachán as being a pigmy, a sprite, or a leprechaun, from the word luchorpán, whom he also defines as leprechaun, or a kind of aqueous sprite. The word also means, “small” or “half bodied”, according to the Collins English Dictionary. One of the speculative origins of this word is “leath bhrógan” as quoted from the Oxford English Diction as meaning shoe-maker. The leprechaun is often called the “fairy shoe-maker” in Ireland. In traditional portraits and images of the leprechaun, he’s often shown as holding or working on a little shoe.

Some speculate instead that the word leprechaun instead derives from “luch-chromain”, which means “little stooping Lugh.” Lugh is the leader of the Tuatha De Danann, or “peoples of the goddess Danu” a race of creatures in Irish mythology, which were at one point a race of human beings, and have slowly been immortalized by their legends. Lugh was the High King, and has deities that reflect his character in other cultures and systems of mythology, such as Celtic, and the Welsh. The first time the word leprechaun appeared in text was in the early 17th century, and was instead called “lubrican” in Middleton and Dekker’s The Honest Whore.

“As for your Irish Lubrican, that spirit
Whom by preposterous charms thy lust has raised.”

It appeared though as more of a spirit, and not exactly the mythological character. They don’t have mythology surrounding them like other deities, and instead are often told of conversationally, like any other occurence, used like the weather. They are in stories, but not as the actual subject of the story; for example, a leprechaun might be an aid to the hero, but is usually not the hero himself. Other spelling of the word leprechaun exist in text, such as leprehaun, leprechawn, lepracaun and lubberkin.

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