Leprechaun

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A leprechaun (Irish: leipreachán) is a type of fairy in Irish folklore, usually taking the form of an old man, clad in a red or green coat, who enjoys partaking in mischief. Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns have been linked to the Tuatha Dé Danann of Irish mythology.[1] The Leprechauns spend all their time busily making shoes, and store away all their coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If ever captured by a human, the Leprechaun has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for their release. Popular depiction shows the Leprechaun as being no taller than a small child,[2] with a beard and hat.

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Etymology

The name leprechaun is derived from the Irish word leipreachán, defined by Patrick Dinneen as "a pigmy, a sprite, or leprechaun". The further derivation is less certain; according to most sources, the word is thought to be a corruption of Middle Irish luchrupán,[3] from the Old Irish luchorpán, a compound of the roots lú (small) and corp (body).[4][5] The root corp, which was borrowed from the Latin corpus, attests to the early influence of Ecclesiastical Latin on the Irish language.[6] The alternative spelling leithbrágan stems from a folk etymology deriving the word from leith (half) and bróg (brogue), because of the frequent portrayal of the leprechaun as working on a single shoe.[7]

Alternative spellings in English have included lubrican, leprehaun, and lepreehawn. Some modern Irish books use the spelling lioprachán.[4] The first recorded instance of the word in the English language was in Dekker's comedy The Honest Whore, Part 2 (1604): "As for your Irish lubrican, that spirit / Whom by preposterous charms thy lust hath rais'd / In a wrong circle."[4]

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