Like every other word in extensive use, whose derivation is not historically certain, the word Fairy has obtained various and opposite etymons. Meyric Casaubon, and those who like him deduce everything from a classic source, however unlikely, derive Fairy from a Homeric name of the Centaurs; or think that fee, whence Fairy, is the last syllable of nymplia. Sir W. Ouseley derives it from the Hebrew (peer), to adorn; Skinner, from the Anglo-Saxon papan, to fare, to go ; others from Feres, companions, or think that Fairy-folk is quasi Fair-folk. Finally, it has been queried if it be not Celtic. But no theory is so plausible, or is supported by such names, as that which deduces the English Fairy from the Persian Peri. It is said that the Paynim foe, whom the warriors of the Cross encountered in Palestine, spoke only Arabic ; the alphabet of which language, it is well known, pos-sesses no p, and therefore organically substitutes an f in such foreign words as contain the former letter ; consequently Peri became, in the mouth of an Arab, Fori, whence the crusaders and pilgrims, who carried back to Europe the marvellous tales of Asia, introdiiccd into the West tlie Arabo-Persian word Fairy. It is further added, that the Morgain or Morgana, so celebrated in old romance, is Merjan Peri, equally celebrated all over the East.


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Fairy Mythology - Thomas Keightley