Leprechaun, illustration by George Denham, from The Irish Fairy Book by …—Courtesy of the Folklore Society Library, University College, London; photograph, R.B. Fleming

In Irish folklore, a fairy in the form of a tiny old man wearing a cocked hat and leather apron. Solitary by nature, leprechauns lived in remote places and worked as shoemakers. Each was believed to possess a hidden crock of gold. If captured and threatened, a leprechaun might reveal the gold's hiding place, provided his captor never took his eyes off him. Usually the captor was tricked into glancing away, and the leprechaun vanished. The word derives from the Old Irish luchorpan (“little body”).

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on leprechaun, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up leprechaun? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.