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From Middle English fairye, fairie, from Old French faerie, from fae + -erie, from Vulgar Latin *Fāta (goddess of fate), from Latin fātum (fate). Equivalent to fey +‎ -ry.

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 a small sprite with gauze-like wings, and revered in some modern forms of paganism.
    • 1886, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, H.L. Brækstad, transl., Folk and Fairy Tales, page 51:
      "They used to say there were fairies in that hill, I must tell you!"
  3. An enchantress, or creature of overpowering charm.
  4. (Northern England, US, derogatory, colloquial) A male homosexual, especially one who is effeminate.
    • 1933, Nathanael West, 'Miss Lonelyhearts' [Miss Lonelyhearts is male.]
      The cripple returned the smile and stuck out his hand. Miss Lonelyhearts clasped it, and they stood this way, smiling and holding hands, until Mrs. Doyle reëntered the room.
      "What a sweet pair of fairies you guys are," she said.
      The cripple pulled his hand away and made as though to strike his wife.
    • 1957, Jack Kerouac, chapter 4, in On the Road, Viking Press, →OCLC, part 3:
      We saw a horrible sight in the bar: a white hipster fairy had come in wearing a Hawaiian shirt and was asking the big drummer if he could sit in.
  5. A member of two species of hummingbird in the genus Heliothryx.
  6. A legendary Chinese immortal.
    Synonyms: xian, immortal


Derived termsEdit



fairy (comparative more fairy, superlative most fairy)

  1. Like a fairy; fanciful, whimsical, delicate.
    • 1831, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Romance and Reality. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 287:
      ….—a large cashmere shawl, with its border of roses, thrown carelessly on a chair—a crimson cushion, where lay sleeping a Blenheim dog, almost small enough to have passed through the royal ring in that most fairy tale of the White Cat:—all bespoke a lady's room.


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Two bottles of Fairy


From genericized trademark Fairy.


fairy m (uncountable)

  1. (Spain) washing-up liquid, dish soap
    Synonyms: lavavajillas, lavavajillas líquido
    • 2022 January 23, Janire Manzanas, “¿Se pueden limpiar las gafas con Fairy?”, in OkDiario[1]:
      Sin embargo, no siempre tenemos una gamuza a mano, así que recurrimos a otras soluciones, como limpiar las gafas con Fairy y agua.
      However, we don't always have a chamois on hand, so we turn to other solutions, such as cleaning the glasses with Fairy and water.
    • 2019 March 5, “Así es la "trampa del Fairy" de Millo que desata las risas en redes”, in El Plural[2]:
      El exdelegado del Gobierno en Cataluña Josep Enric Millo se ha referido este martes durante su declaración en el juicio del 'procés' en el Supremo a la "trampa del Fairy" como uno de los tipos de agresión que sufrieron los agentes que participaron en el dispositivo desplegado en la jornada del referéndum del 1 de octubre en Cataluña.
      (please add an English translation of this quote)