A leprechaun is a mischievous fairy of Irish folklore, usually depicted as a miniature old man in a green coat. Leprechauns are commonly held to hide gold coins in a pot at the end of a rainbow.
The name is derived from the Irish word leipreachán, which is believed to be a corruption of Old Irish luchorpán, a compound of the roots lú (small) and corp (body).
The earliest known reference to the leprechaun appears in the medieval Irish tale known as the Adventure of Fergus, son of Léti. Dating is uncertain but is pre AD 1000. The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Léti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on a beach and wakes to find himself being dragged into the sea by three leprechauns. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for their release.
The word first appeared in English in 1604 (as “lubrican”) in Dekker’s comedy “The Honest Whore”.
Like other fairy creatures, leprechauns have been linked to the Tuatha Dé Danann (“peoples of the goddess Danu”) of Irish mythology.
More recently, leprechauns have become popular in North American culture, in part due to the celebration of St. Patrick´s Day, and in support of tourism in Ireland.
There is no evidence supporting the existence of leprechauns.