AskDefine | Define pixie

Dictionary Definition

pixie

Noun

1 (folklore) fairies that are somewhat mischievous [syn: elf, hob, gremlin, pixy, brownie, imp]
2 creeping evergreen shrub having narrow overlapping leaves and early white star-shaped flowers; of the pine barrens of New Jersey and the Carolinas [syn: pyxie, pixy, Pyxidanthera barbulata]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

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Noun

  1. A playful sprite, elflike or fairylike creature.

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Extensive Definition

Pixies (also Piskies and Pigsies as they are sometimes known in Cornwall) are mythical creatures of folklore, considered to be particularly concentrated in the areas around Devon and Cornwall, suggesting some Celtic origin for the belief and name. They are usually depicted with pointed ears, and often wearing a green outfit and pointed hat. Sometimes their eyes are described as being pointed upwards at the temple ends.

Characteristics

Pixies are winged human-like creatures often associated with England and Scotland.
Pixies are variously described in folklore and fiction. In the legends associated with Dartmoor, Pixies are said to disguise themselves as a bundle of rags to lure children into their play. The pixies of Dartmoor are fond of music and dancing. These Pixies are said to be helpful to normal humans, sometimes helping needy widows and others with housework. They are often ill clothed. Lack of fashion sense has been taken by Rachael de Vienne, a fantasy writer, to mean that Pixies generally go unclothed, though they are sensitive to human need for covering.
In Devonshire Pixies are said to be “invisibly small, and harmless or friendly to man.” Yet in some of the legends and historical accounts they are presented as having near human stature. For instance, a member of the Elford family in Tavistock, England, successfully hid from Cromwell’s troops in a Pixie house. A location in Devonshire associated with Pixies was the inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Song of the Pixies.
Many Victorian era poets saw them as magical beings. An Example is Samuel Minturn Peck. In his poem “The Pixies” he writes :
‘Tis said their forms are tiny, yet
All human ills they can subdue,
Or with a wand or amulet
Can win a maiden’s heart for you;
And many a blessing know to stew
To make to wedlock bright;
Give honour to the dainty crew,
The Pixies are abroad tonight.
Belief in Pixies and Fairies is still held by many and their visitations are documented in obscure volumes of English and Scots legend. By the early 19th Century their contact with “normal humans” had diminished. In Drew’s Cornwall one finds the observation: “The age of Pixies, like that of Chivalry, is gone. There is, perhaps, at present hardly a house they are reputed to visit. Even the fields and lanes which they formerly frequented seem to be nearly forsaken. Their music is rarely heard.”
Some Pixies are said to steal children or to lead travelers astray. This seems to be a cross over from Fairy mythology and not originally attached to Pixies. Thomas Keightley observed that much of Fairy myth is attached to Pixies by Devonshire mythology. Pixies are said to reward consideration and punish neglect on the part of larger humans. Keightley gives examples. By their presence they bring blessings to those who are fond of them.
Pixies are drawn to horses, riding them for pleasure and making tangled ringlets in the manes of those horses they ride. They are “great explorers familiar with the caves of the ocean, the hidden sources of the streams and the recesses of the land.”
The Victorian era writer Mary Elizabeth Whitcombe divided Pixies in to tribes according to personality and deeds. Another writer known only as Mrs. Bray suggested that Pixies and Fairies were distinct species. Some find Pixies to have a human origin or to “partake of human nature” in distinction to Fairies whose mythology is traced to immaterial and malignant spirit forces. In folklore Pixies and Fairies are antagonists. They battled at Buckland St. Mary, Somerset. The Pixies were victorious and still visit the area. The Fairies are said to have left after their loss.
Pixie mythology seems to predate Christian presence in Britain. They were subsumed into what passed as Christianity with the explanation that they were the souls of children who had died un-baptized. By the mid 19th Century Pixies were associated with the Picts. This is an improbable origin of Pixie mythology. Some 19th Century researchers made more general claims about Pixie origins, or have connected them with Puck, a mythological creature sometimes described as a fairy. The name Puck is of uncertain origin.
One British scholar took Pixie myth seriously enough to state his belief that “Pixies were evidently a smaller race, and, from the greater obscurity of the … tales about them, I believe them to have been an earlier race.”
Pixies are said to be uncommonly beautiful, though there are some called pixie who have distorted and strange appearance. One Pixie is said to have some goat-like features. Another is said to be coltish in character.
Before the mid 19th Century Pixies and Faires were taken seriously in much of rural England. Books devoted to the homely beliefs of English peasantry are filled with incidents of Pixie manifestations. Some locales are named for the Pixies associated with them. In Devonshire, near Challacombe,a group of rocks are named for the Pixies said to dwell there. In some areas belief in Pixies and Fairies persists.
In modern fiction the fantasy author Rachael de Vienne is probably most faithful to Pixie mythology, weaving many of its elements into her work. Other writers pay tribute to Pixies by at least using the name, though they often stray form the mythology. The myths themselves are so diverse that many different and interesting approaches to Pixies can be taken without damage to original sources.

Fiction

In Holly Black's works, pixies are green-skinned, human-sized faeries with shimmering wings. They have a command of glamour and a type of power to charm or seduce others.
In Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, pixies are one of a number of magical species that have been driven underground by humans and the pollution they have caused on Earth. Opal Koboi is the megalomaniac, genius pixie of Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception.
In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky feature a race of fairies named "Pictsies," which are truly Pictish pixies.
In Rachael de Vienne's Pixie Warrior, Pixies are winged females with wings that color to show their emotions. They seek husbands from among humans. They are four feet tall on average, and have a gestation of two weeks.
In J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", Gilderoy Lockhart releases a cage of Cornish blue pixies into the classroom in an effort to teach the students how to defeat them in his Defense Against Dark Arts class. In Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series, Rachel, a witch, works closely with Jenks, a pixie, to track down the missing, save various creatures, retrieve stolen objects, defend the defenseless, etc. Jenks, his wife, and large family live in, tend, and protect Rachel's garden.

Animation

Peter Pan (1953 film): In the Disney film based on the play by J.M. Barrie, Tinker Bell is described as a pixie but is actually a fairy. In the Disney versions she always uses "pixie dust" rather than the fairy dust in the play. "In Sir James M. Barrie's original play, Tinker Bell is traditionally staged as a flying point of light beamed from offstage. Animator Marc Davis' personification of her as a winged pixie with a very womanly figure was widely criticized as too sexually suggestive by Barrie purists, especially after it was rumored that she was modeled after actress Marilyn Monroe. Tink was actually modeled after Margaret Kerry, the actress who performed her live-action reference." According to Barrie's original play: "Peter Pan ... explained, 'she is called Tinker Bell because she mends the pots and kettles (tinker = tin worker).' (Similar to 'cinder' plus 'elle' to get Cinderella)".
In The Fairly OddParents The Pixies are dull, wear grey suits, speak in monotone voices, wear pointy caps and, unlike the fairies, treat magic like a business. Instead of wands, they carry cellphones. The Head Pixie (H.P. for short), Mr. Sanderson, and the other male pixies are all voiced by Ben Stein. The female pixies are not seen. This is due to them being named after pixels.
American Dragon: Jake Long: Pixies are featured as one of the mythical creatures in the show.
Winx Club:The pixies are bonded to the fairies at Alfea.
pixie in German: Pixie
pixie in French: Pixie
pixie in Hebrew: פיקסי
pixie in Japanese: ピクシー
pixie in Thai: พิกซี
pixie in Russian: Пикси

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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