Pronunciation: Pook-ee
Old Norse:Puki
Anglo Saxon:Puca
Puck is a mischievous nature spirit, leading folk astray with echoes and lights in nighttime woodlands or coming into the farmstead and souring milk in the churn. Significantly for such a place-spirit or genius, the Old English word occurs mainly in place names, which strongly suggests that the Puca was older in the landscape of Britain than the language itself. The origin of the Puki goes back to the the Indo-European origins of the Germanic peoples and cane be found in the Celtic (Welsh pwcca and Irish pooka). Since, if you “speak” of the Devil” he will appear, Puck’s euphemistic “disguised” name is “Robin Goodfellow” or “Hobgoblin” in which “Hob” may substitute for “Rob” or may simply refer to the “goblin of the hearth” or hob.
If you had the knack, Puck might do minor housework for you, quick fine needlework or butter-churning, which could be undone in a moment by his knavish tricks, if you fell out of favor with him: “Those that Hob-goblin call you, and sweet Puck, You do their work, and they shall have good luck” said one of Shakespeare’s fairies. Shakespeare’s characterization of “shrewd and knavish” Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” may have revived flagging interest in Puck.
The Púki survived into the Middle Ages to become the “Puck” familiar to us from Shakespeare and other English writers. In parts of England, they sometimes left out bowls of curds and cream for the puki.