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leprechaun

[lep-ruh-kawn, -kon]
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noun Irish Folklore.
  1. a dwarf or sprite.
  2. a conventionalized literary representation of this figure as a little old man who will reveal the location of a hidden crock of gold to anyone who catches him.

Origin of leprechaun

1595–1605; < Irish leipreachán, lucharachán, MIr luchrapán, lupra(c)cán, metathesized forms of Old Irish lúchorp(án), equivalent to lú- small + corp body (< Latin corpus) + -án diminutive suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for leprechaun

leprechaun

noun
  1. (in Irish folklore) a mischievous elf, often believed to have a treasure hoard

Word Origin

C17: from Irish Gaelic leipreachān, from Middle Irish lūchorpān, from small + corp body, from Latin corpus body
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for leprechaun

n.

c.1600, from Irish lupracan, metathesis from Old Irish luchorpan literally "a very small body," from lu "little" (from PIE *legwh- "having little weight;" see light (adj.)) + corpan, diminutive of corp "body," from Latin corpus "body" (see corporeal). Commonly spelled lubrican in 17c. English. Leithbragan is Irish folk etymology, from leith "half" + brog "brogue," because the spirit was "supposed to be always employed in making or mending a single shoe."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper