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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

Examples from the Web for leprechauns

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • "Leprechauns are not really mechanically inclined," said Keech.

  • An' so you don't b'lieve there's sich things as Leprechauns, don't ye?

    The Fairy Mythology

    Thomas Keightley

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

    Shaun O'Day of Ireland

    Madeline Brandeis

  • He began to wonder whether the tale of the leprechauns was true.

    Shaun O'Day of Ireland

    Madeline Brandeis

  • But Snockerty was of the stripe of trolls, leprechauns, pucks, and hobgoblins.


British Dictionary definitions for leprechauns

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 leprechauns

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

leprechauns in Culture

leprechauns

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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