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.
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.
30 replies on “Alicorn”
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.
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,
Hello, I just wanted to know how long did it took you to write this article. I’m writing a fantasy book and I need information on alicorns. I love your article but is there anything you could recommend, like a website? Your article doesn’t have enough information for my book.
This is the best information ever
My little pony was originally released in 1981, so whilst I have no info on the contents or terms used in any of the My Little Pony series, book or animation, it was released well before 1984.
The first reference in MLP to an alicorn was Princess Twinkle something or something Twinkle in the early 90s. So Piers Anthony beat MLP to the term a long time ago.
One of my all time FAVOURITE series!!!
My first car I bought in 1995 I named Alicorn, because of the series!!! ❤️
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
Your research sucks I am doing a fantasy novel and o can’t get any of the info I need
Sorry that you feel that way – is there anything specific that you don’t like about the article?
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!
It’s not Steve’s fault that you didn’t find what you want. He’s just offering what he’s found out. It’s your job as a writer to keep researching until you find what you need, or make it up to suit your work. It doesn’t have to be based on any one else’s facts in a novel. Having said that, I wish you well in writing your novel. I hope you find what need, even if it’s a spark to create your own alicorn reality.
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.
Well, there in fact is more than just “My Little Pony” that mentions the Alicorn, there are books on them that i am personally in love with. One of those books is Keeper of the Lost Cities, which was made not too long ago. I am pretty sure that alicorns are getting mentioned over and over again and no one is paying attention to them. Alicorns do deserve more attention, and i don’t care is “Alicorn” isn’t there proper name or not.
Yes. Keeper of the Lost Cities rocks!
nice read thanks for the info
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!
Hey great job writing this piece. There is some more research that I’d love to add to this article. For example Alicorns are also known as Alaricorns. They have a few more magical powers too, you can read up all about it on this post https://thisunicornlife.com/what-is-a-unicorn-with-wings-called/ plus there is a cute infographic. Hope this helps.
I think i know why an Alicorn caleed an alicorn so there is 3 types of horse or unicorn, first a horse second a unicorn 3rd there is a pagausus sorry if i didnt spell does right im still 8 and my first laguedge isnt english
, anyways so an alicorn is called an alicorn bcs its an “all” icorn so its a mixed of a every types of horses or unicorn or pegausus and also sorry if i didnt spell it right
You just keep on keeping on, Catherine! Don’t worry about the spelling. English is tough, even for those for which it is their native language! I could only dream of writing anything coherent in your native tongue or any other language, even though I studied French in high school. (Started with B grades but by my fourth year I had regressed to Ds.
Thanks for the different monikers. I love Ceraptor. It will be a part of my vernacular from here on out. My initials are CC. I have been called a unicorn, by friends. I thought, no I come from the Cosmos so I am not simply a Unicorn. I have wings as well. Alicorn from my Little Pony kept it simple, but you are saying that it is misinformation. I appreciate your research. Don’t be discouraged by the ignoramus that couldn’t articulate why your research didn’t work for them.
bruh its a mith its not real
Thanks for the info but can you add how and when it started because im doing a report on them and I can’t find it anywhere.
If an Alicorn and a Unicorn have a baby, will the child be a Alicorn or Unicorn? Or does it depend?
I think it could only be either an Alicorn, a Unicorn or a Pegasus 🙂
So you mentioned the winged bulls on the section of Alicorn. I was wondering if you could give us a bit more information on the winged bull?
I’m specifically interested in knowing what they look like or if they have another name such as how a winged horse is called a Pegasus.
I think Steve did an AMAZING job!!!! Thank you Steve. I have a new appreciation for flying unicorns. LOVE XO
I have been trying to find out what this creature means to the Middle East. Maybe the Muslim Religion? I have been drawn to the winged unicorn for decades!
Odell Shepard coined the English word “alicorn” in his 1930 book “The Lore of the Unicorn”.
This is quite interesting that Alicorns once existence from Greece just like the movie Hercules