July 15, 2018 Steve Brown 9 Comments

If you ask most people what is a Unicorn they could tell you. If you ask what is the Pegasus, they could tell you that too. But they might not be able to tell you what an Alicorn is… Well, good thing I’m here to explain it for them!

An Alicorn is a cross between a Pegasus and a Unicorn. A flying Unicorn.

Alicorn Mythology

The Alicorn is a combination of a Unicorn and a winged horse or Pegasus, although the name seems somewhat tenuous from the literature I’ve found as the word ‘alicorn’ itself refers to the horn of a unicorn. Winged unicorns themselves have been shown in literature for many thousands of years, the ancient Assyrian seals depicting them alongside winged bulls. The Alicorns allegedly representing the forces of good with the winged bulls representing the forces of evil. In more recent times they’ve often featured (the Alicorns that is, not so much the winged bulls!) on childrens fairground rides.

The Alicorn term appears to have mostly been coined by the show My Little Pony (see below) although that show didn’t come up with the winged unicorn myth itself. Other names have been used throughout history for the Alicorn, such as Winged Unicorn, Cerapter ( Keras meaning horn and Pteros meaning wings ), Unisis, Pegacorn, Hornisis, Unipeg and Hornipeg.

Asian culture makes no distinction between Alicorn and Unicorn – and the Pegasus flying horse makes no appearance at all here – meaning that all Pegasus or Unicorn creatures would be in fact, the Alicorn.

The horn of the Alicorn is said to possess magical healing qualities and the Alicorn beast itself is written about with considerably magical abilities, although little can really be found describing what in fact these magical qualities are – leaving it largely up to an authors imagination to come up with stories to make up.

Allegedly, during the Renaissance, kings would pay the equivalent of tens of thousands of pounds for materials they believed were ground Unicorn horn (or Alicorn) as they believed it contained healing properties which could neutralise poison or protect them from the plague as well as purifying water. It’s fairly likely that these substances were taken from Narwhals, Antelope or even some Rhinos.

Current Day Usage

The Alicorn has most recently, and perhaps famously (and somewhat controversially) been popularised by the TV show “My Little Pony” – which is a massive hit particularly amongst younger girls who tend to aspire to the Princess nature of the show. Indeed, it seems it was My Little Pony which coined the name Alicorn at least for popular culture.

Most other references in popular culture revolve around the Unicorn.

9 People reacted on this

  1. Piers Anthony used the term “alicorn” in his book “Bearing an hourglass” (part of his “Incarnations of Immortality” series). The book was released in 1984, long before “My Little Pony” aired, so it wasn’t the show that coined the term. I can’t say that Piers Anthony coined it either, but he at least has printed evidence of using it before the attribution you gave.

    1. Hi Steven,
      Interesting – I did research the term before writing the article but clearly didn’t come across this. Which suggests my sources are also unaware of it. I will investigate this further and update the post accordingly. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

      All the best,

  2. The film Legend, 1985 makes multiple references to Alicorn, only referring to the horn itself. In the film a unicorn is killed and the alicorn is taken from the animal because it possesses magical powers

    1. Nice article. I just stombled upon this term alicorn today and found your website. Thanks for sharing it. After I was browsing forward I found this sentance: “The first known use of alicorn was in 1966” but I have no idea by who or where it would be mentioned. Just wanted to let you know 😉
      Take care and have a nice day!

  3. The Alicorn is the name of the horn that a unicorn has. It is not the namesake of a winged unicorn. I have done thourough research over decades into this matter and I find it appauling that mytholy be twisted for meer merchandising such as My Little Pony… but I my kids do love the show.

    Alicorn was taken to mean a winged unicon as it is a union of the Ala (wing) and “icorn” from the original unicorn. However there is no literature predating 1984 that calls a Winged Unicorn an Alicorn.

    The Alicorn is and forever will be the horn of a unicorn… well until all pre-My Little Pony die off that is. Then the misinformation will take over and well like all languages, this might come to change.

  4. Hi Steve, no matter who you are or what you do, you will always find some critic in the bunch. I just wanted to message you because I am writing a story for my 3 year old nephew suffering with cancer in his right eye. I sell Scentsy and they just happened to have a Pegacorn which they call a unicorn that I purchased to send to him. I wanted more info so I could write my story appropriately and you have helped me do so. Thank you!

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