The Old French word for fairies is faerie :. Thus, faerie is simply the French word for the concept, just as elf is the Germanic word and sidhe is the Gaelic word for it. The development of the English language is such that a lot of native words were replaced or augmented with their French equivalents.
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For example, the native English word for the concept of fate is wyrd, which still survives as one of the meanings of weird, but is mostly supplanted by the Latinate word fate, very much like how elf shares with the Latinate fairy. Since this is more a philological question, I'm going with this somewhat different take on the matter from noted philologist J.
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Fairy, as a noun more or less equivalent to elf, is a relatively modern word, hardly used until the Tudor period. The first quotation in the Oxford Dictionary the only one before A. It is taken from the poet Gower: as he were a faerie. But this Gower did not say. He wrote as he were of faerie, "as if he were come from faerie".
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I have taken one liberty in transcribing it: the PDF to which I linked appears to have dropped the italics. Tolkien used italics heavily; my memory of first reading "On Fairy Stories" includes that customary italicization; so I have attempted to recreate it as best I can. If I got it wrong, that's on me. Anyway, it's bracing to hear a professional imply that the use of the term "fairies" stems mainly from a publisher's error.
Tolkien certainly knew his field, and was probably familiar with the occasional accident in transcription carrying large linguistic consequences. From the same essay, on page Faerie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons: it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.
That rather magnificent bit of wordsmithing outlines the beginning's of Tolkien's theme for the essay. I won't issue spoilers, but this admittedly fairly long piece might be of considerable interest to mythology. The word 'Fairy' is most commonly used to describe a mystical entity that holds no true connection with our physical world. Because of this non-connection, the word "Fairy" has a neutral connotation and is used to describe the powerful forces of nature and the mystical entities that inhabit nature.
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It is likely that because old Pagan religions are deeply entangled with the forces of nature, the term "Fairy Tales" came naturally to describe stories of mystical encounters in the forests during that time. The modern interpretation of a "Fairy" has evolved to something that is still evolved with the forest but is far from what the original historical context suggested. Tinker Bell modern interpretation of "fairies". Podcast We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered.
Figurativeness of fairy tales of English and Kazakh language
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Tradition and Transformation: Fairy Tales in the Victorian Novel
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