What are Sprites? Here we deal primarily with the folklore variety. Are they the same as Water Fairies? As fairies? As Elves? AS pixies? Wellll ......Yes and No to all of these. The name comes from the Latin word "spiritus" or spirit. In French it is "esprit".
For those that are interested, there are other kinds rather than the folklore variety. Lightning and some plants are sometimes referred to as Water Fairies or Sprites.
They are a small, supernatural magical being. The term is used often in European folklore when describing elf and fairies. But, unlike fairies, they have more ethereal qualities. Sprite is not used in the more modern European Folklore. English folklore from a more modern era, rarely use the term Sprite.
Several literary works use these creatures. In William Shakespeare's The Tempest the character Ariel fits the description of sprites. In Andrew Long's, story about fairyland, titled The Princess Nobody, a Prince thanks a Water Fairy that also fits this description.
Water Sprites (sometimes called 'Water faery') is the name of an elemental spirit. They breathe water or air and some of them can fly. They don't usually appear to be dangerous unless frightened or threatened.
Ancient Greek mythology knew them as water nymphs and another group considered divine, were called naiads (or nyads).
Swedish Water Sprites can be seen close to the water. They are mostly seen in small lakes or in streams. At the coast they are called Sea Nymphs.
You can never really know how the Water Sprite looks, he can either be a man, a horse, a bull or even a cat or a dog! In the south of Sweden he is usually seen as a horse - "Bäckahästen", that entangle its victims by making them ride on its back.
Lightning Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground.
Plants commonly called Water Sprites are also known as Indian fern, water fern, oriental waterfern, and water hornfern. In the Philippines it is called pakung-sungay (literally 'antler fern' or 'horn fern'). An example of one is the Species Ceratopteris thalictroides