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From Middle English fairie, from Old French faerie, from fae + -erie, from Vulgar Latin Fāta (goddess of fate), from Latin fātum (fate).

English from ca. 1300, first in the sense of "enchantment, illusion, dream" and later "realm of the fays, fairy-land" or "the inhabitants of fairyland as a collective". The re-interpretation of the term as a countable noun denoting individual inhabitants of fairy-land can be traced to the 1390s, but becomes common only in the 16th century.



fairy (countable and uncountable, plural fairies)

  1. (uncountable, obsolete) The realm of faerie; enchantment, illusion.
  2. A mythical being with magical powers, known in many sizes and descriptions, although often depicted in modern illustrations only as small and spritely with gauze-like wings, and revered in some modern forms of paganism; a sprite.
  3. (Northern England, US, derogatory, colloquial) A male homosexual, especially one who is effeminate.
  4. A member of two species of hummingbird in the genus Heliothryx.


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