Literature of the Elizabethan era conflated elves with the fairies of Romance culture, rendering these terms somewhat interchangeable.The Victorian era and Edwardian era saw a heightened increase of interest in fairies.The Celtic Revival cast fairies as part of Ireland's cultural heritage.The English fairy derives from Old French form faierie, a derivation from faie (from Vulgar Latin fata) with the abstract noun suffix -erie.In Old French romance, a faie or fee was a woman skilled in magic, and who knew the power and virtue of words, of stones, and of herbs.Fairies were also sometimes thought to haunt specific locations, and to lead travelers astray using will-o'-the-wisps.
Before the advent of modern medicine, fairies were often blamed for sickness, particularly tuberculosis and birth deformities.
A portrait of a fairy, by Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1869).
The title of the painting is Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things – purportedly from a poem by Charles Ede.
Faie became Modern English fay, while faierie became fairy, but this spelling almost exclusively refers to one individual (the same meaning as fay).
In the sense of "land where fairies dwell", archaic spellings faery and faerie are still in use.
fae, fair folk; from faery, faerie, "realm of the fays") is a type of mythical being or legendary creature in European folklore (and particularly Celtic, Slavic, German, English, and French folklore), a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural, or preternatural.