With Saint Patrick’s Day fast approaching, why not take a look at the etymology of leprechaun?
The word leprechaun involves the blending of Gaelic and Latin. The earliest written English record of the term occurred in 1604, spelled lubrican. This spelling - and a boatload of early alternate spellings - start with lu-. the Gaelic combining form for small. In Old Irish leprechaun was spelled luchorpan, which allows us to see a hint of the Latin part of this word, meaning body. This same combining form is used in the words corpuscle, corporation, Corpus Christi, and corporeal. So leprechaun translates simply to little body.
Irish folklore (poo-pooed by, yet titillating to etymologists), tells us that because leprechauns are sprites known for making or repairing a single shoe, the name comes from leithbragan, which marries leith, meaning half. Brag means brogue.
While one source bestows leprechauns with a little lisping, attenuated falsetto voice, another Irish tale defines the leprechaun as a pygmy sprite who always carries a purse containing a schilling.
Despite all this information, if you find yourself at a bar on Saint Patrick’s Day, and someone sits at the next stool, & begins repairing a single shoe, speaking in a lisping falsetto, &/or carrying a purse, it’s wisest to keep your assumptions to yourself. And isn’t that always true.
Good followers, what do you have to say about leprechauns, or about the wisdom of keeping one’s assumptions to oneself?