Difference Between Nymphs and Fairies (with Table)

Mythological creatures have always been terrifying and fascinating with their unnatural deadly power and physiology. This is the reason why their stories have endured through centuries. People have long believed in their mythical creatures especially nymphs and fairies since very ancient times. However, the majority of people get confused about distinguishing fairies from nymphs.

Nymph is a mythological spirit of nature imagined as a beautiful maiden inhabiting woods, rivers, and mountains. They are human-like female species. They are always taken by very adolescent, beautiful females. The word nymph is derived from the greed word ‘nymphe’. They are considered a divine spirit with nature.

Fairies are a small imaginary being of human that has magical powers. They are very tiny, approximately a size of a thumb. They can either be male or female regarded as wise creatures and benevolent. The evolution of fairies witnesses a negative impression on the people of the past. It was believed that they caused bad luck and were mischievous creatures.

The difference between Nymphs and Fairies is of their origin. The Nymphs are originated from greek mythology whereas the Fairies arsed from the Roman culture.

Comparison Table Between Nymphs and Fairies

Parameters of ComparisonNymphsFairies
MeaningNymphs are a minor female nature deity, generally regarded as the personification of nature, different from greek goddesses, are tied to specific landforms or places.Fairies are a mythical being founded in the folklore of multiple European and Roman culture, are a form of spirits who have supernatural powers.
SizeNymphs are normally the size of a human.Fairies are generally very tiny, the size of a single thumb.
OriginNymphs were mythologically originated from Roman culture.Fairies were originated from ancient Greek mythologies.
GenderNymphs are only and always female.Fairies can be both male or female.
LocationNymphs are generally located in woods, water, mountains, or land.Fairies are found in flowering plants.

What are Nymphs?

Nymphs, in ancient Greek mythology, is a minor female nature deity. They are generally regarded as the personification of nature, different from greek goddesses, are tied to specific landforms or places. They are usually depicted as a beautiful maiden, not necessarily immortal, but lives a life much longer than humans.

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The word ‘nymph’ is derived from the Greek word ‘numphe’ which means young woman; bride, young wife. In modern times it means young women at the peak of their attractiveness, a virgin, and generically assumed as maiden, girl. Sometimes this term is also used by women to address each other.

Nymphs have five classifications namely, territorial nymphs, water nymphs, underwater nymphs, plant nymphs, and celestial nymphs. These mythological creatures are species of a demigod and are considered as divine spirits in association with nature, likes to sing, and dance.

It is believed that nymphs cannot die of diseases or old age, but of other cause. This is because they are different from god. Sometimes God takes the form of nymphs. They are often depicted in many works across literature, fiction, and arts.

In the early years of the 20th century, ancient greek believed that they survived in parts of the country, they tended to be seen in areas distant from humans but were encountered by lone travelers. These travelers spy them dancing singing and bathing in streams and pools.

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What are Fairies?

Fairies are a mythical being founded in the folklore of multiple European and Roman culture, are a form of spirits who have supernatural powers.

The origin of fairies is not certainly found in a single myth and stories, but are rather a collection of folk beliefs from disparate sources. They are tiny in size and can either be male or female. They generally are humanlike in appearance, dressed in dark grey, seen in armor.

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The word fairy is derived from the early modern English word ‘faerie’ which means ‘ realm of the fays’. ‘Faerie’, in turn, derives from the Old French word ‘faierie’, which is an abstract noun. Again, the word ‘faierie’ is derived from the vulgar Latin word ‘fata’. All these words have one common meaning that is a woman skilled in magic, and who knew the power and virtue of words, of stones, and of herbs known as a fee.

The historical origin of fairies includes traditions of Gaclic, Brythonic, and Germanic people. Elizabethan era literature conflated elves with the fairies of Roman culture. Sometimes these words are interchangeable. Eventually, the interest in fairies rises in the victorian era and the Edwardian era.

In the early stages of its origin, fairies were believed to be unworthy dead, the child of eve, a kind of demon, or the old race of humans.

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Main Differences Between Nymphs and Fairies

  1. Nymphs are a minor female nature deity, generally regarded as the personification of nature, different from greek goddesses, are tied to specific landforms or places. On the other hand, Fairies are a mythical being founded in the folklore of multiple European and Roman culture, are a form of spirits who have supernatural powers.
  2. Nymphs are normally the size of a human. Whereas, Fairies are generally very tiny, the size of a single thumb.
  3. Nymphs were mythologically originated from Roman culture. While Fairies were originated from ancient Greek mythologies.
  4. Nymphs are only and always female and Fairies can be both male or female.
  5. Nymphs are generally located in woods, water, mountains, or land. As against, Fairies are found in flowering plants.
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Conclusion

People long believed in mythical creatures such as nymphs and fairies with incredible powers. Most people get confused in distinguishing the two as they both are human-like mythologically origin species of great beauty and immense supernatural powers.

They are believed as spirits of the dead humans, protector of places or demons, but they both have a distinctive feature that a thumb-size flying human should not be confused with a bathing beauty in a pond.

References

  1. https://oxfordre.com/classics/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.001.0001/acrefore-9780199381135-e-4487
  2. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/577021/summary