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What is folklore?

The term folklore is generally used to refer to the traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of a people which have beem disseminated in an informal manner — usually via word of mouth, although in modern times the Internet has become a pivotal source for folklore. The term folklore may also be used to define the comparative study of folk knowledge and culture.

The term "folklore" was first coined by William J. Thoms in 1846. Thoms was a Britist antiquarian who wanted a simple term to replace various awkward phrases floating around at the time to discuss the same concept; phrases such as "popular antiquities", "the lore of the people", and "the manners, customs, observances, supersitions, ballads, proverbs etc, of the olden times".

Looking for more Folklore definitions?  Want to know what the difference is between a myth and a legend? Check out our Folklore definitions page. 

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.