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[lep-ruh-kawn, -kon] /ˈlɛp rəˌkɔn, -ˌkɒn/
noun, Irish Folklore.
a dwarf or sprite.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for leprechauns
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But then how are we to account for the little red-dressed men and women and the leprechauns?

  • He would stand by the lake and call to the leprechauns to take him away.

    Shaun O'Day of Ireland Madeline Brandeis
  • An' so you don't b'lieve there's sich things as leprechauns, don't ye?

    The Fairy Mythology Thomas Keightley
  • But Snockerty was of the stripe of trolls, leprechauns, pucks, and hobgoblins.

    A Woman of Genius Mary Austin
  • “On the high road overlooking the Glen of the leprechauns, on a starlit night before the moon came up,” said Padna.

British Dictionary definitions for leprechauns


(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
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Word Origin and History for leprechauns



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
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leprechauns in Culture

leprechauns definition

In the folklore of Ireland, little men who resemble elves. Supposedly, leprechauns can reveal — but only to someone clever enough to catch them — the location of buried treasure, typically a crock of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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