- skip - Brewer’s

Elf (plural, Elves, Anglo-Saxon, œlf)

.

Properly, a mountain fay, but more loosely applied to those airy creatures that dance on the grass or sit in the leaves of trees and delight in the full moon. They have fair golden hair, sweet musical voices, and magic harps. They have a king and queen, marry and are given in marriage. They impersonate the shimmering of the air, the felt but indefinable melody of Nature, and all the little prettinesses which a lover of the country sees, or thinks he sees, in hill and dale, copse and meadow, grass and tree, river and moonlight. Spenser says that Promeʹtheus called the man he made “Elfe,” who found a maid in the garden of Adoʹnis, whom he calledFay,” of “whom all Fayres spring.”        

“Of these a mighty people shortly grew,

And puissant kings, which all the world warrayd,

And to themselves all nations did subdue.”


Faërie Queene, ii. 9, stanza 70. etc.

1

Elf and Goblin, as derived from Guelf and Ghibelline, is mentioned in Johnson (article Goblin), though the words existed long before those factions arose. Heylin (in his Cosmography, p. 130) tells us that some supported that opinion in 1670. Skinner gives the same etymology.

Red Elf. In Iceland, a person gaily dressed is called a red elf (raud âlfr), in allusion to a superstition that dwarfs wear scarlet or red clothes. (Nial’s Sagas.) Black elves are evil spirits; white elves, good ones.

previous entry · index · next entry

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

previous entry · index · next entry

Elephant
Elephant Paper
Elephant and Castle
Elephanta
Elephantine
Eleusinian Mysteries
Elevation of the Host (The)
Eleven (Anglo-Saxon, andlefene, ænd = ain, lefene = lef, left)
Eleven Thousand Virgins
Eleventh Hour (At the)
Elf (plural, Elves, Anglo-Saxon, œlf)
Elf-arrows
Elf-fire
Elf-land
Elf-locks
Elf-marked
Elf-shot
Elfin
Elgin Marbles
Elia
Eliab

Linking here:

Elves
Fairies