Words of the Unpeople


We read about giants, fairies, elves and all types of... well, I call them Unpeople. Many of the words have been in the English language for a very long time. Others are fairly recent arrivals, just a couple of centuries old. This unique list shows you approximately when 150 of these words came into English. It took me a long time to compile, and I discovered Unpeople I’d never heard of before. It’s fascinating stuff! You might have a few surprises.

 

You can use words in this list as a starting point for further research, writing and art, of course. It's up to you. You could also see how many are in your dictionary, and how many are not.

Old English, approx. 8th to 12th century

agathodemon
æglæca
devil
dragon
drake
dwarf (originally to describe a small person, later to denote an Unperson)
elf

ettin
ghost
hag
mare, nightmare
meredeor
nicker, nicor
orcnea
phoenix
puck, pook
scrat
thurse
warlock
werewolf
wight
witch
worm, wyrm

Early Middle English, approx. 13th and 14th century

aspidochelon
basilisk
bug
chimera
cockatrice
demon
dryad
familiar
fairy
gargoyle
giant

goblin
griffin, griffon, gryphon
gripe
halcyon
harpy
hob
hydra
incubus
lamia
magic, magician
manticore, mantichora
mermaid
naiad
nymph
salamander
satyr
siren
sprite
succubus
unicorn
urchin
woodscathe, waldscathe


Late Middle English, approx. 15th century

leviathan
leviathan
wizard

Early Modern English, approx. 16th century

boggard
bogle, boggle
brownie
bugbear
changeling
dragon-dog
faerie
gnome
harpy
hobgoblin
imp
loup-garou
oaf, auf, ouph
orc, ork
poker
rosmarine
spectre, spectrum
wasserman
wraith

17th century

cow, kow
eudemon, eudæmon
green man (the term for a spirit of the trees)
hippocampus
hippogriff

kelpie, kelpy
kobold
larva
leprechaun
pixie, pixy, pisky
sylph
troll
undine
Will-o’-the-wisp
wyvern, wivern

18th century

banshee
ghoul
glamour

knocker
kraken
taran
thaumaturge
vampire

19th century


bogey, bogie
chthonic
daimon
deva

doppelgänger
eidolon
golem
nix, nixie
poltergeist
spook
zombie

20th century

gremlin

Click here for details of a few of these creatures

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