What could be more mythical, enchanting, and magical than winged unicorns? What could better capture the imagination, entrance the senses, and wow the power of the mind than giving the power of flight to already incredible creatures? Let’s figure out do unicorns have wings?
Do Unicorns Have Wings?
Even though winged unicorns are an interesting idea, the traditional unicorn was never depicted with wings. It was a powerful runner and jumper, and could easily clear obstacles, but it couldn’t take to the skies.
Still, unicorns exist across many different cultures and religions, and yet few – if any – were ever shown to have wings, or even the power of flight. However, winged unicorns do exist now, and are often referred to as unicus, pegacorns, or alicorns.
People began drawing and talking about these beautiful creatures around 2500 years ago, so they aren’t new, though they don’t share the unicorn’s extensive history. They may have arisen from some confusion with the Pegasus, or it’s possible that they’re just a reflection of unicorns’ ever-growing mythical powers. Make sure you also have a look on our article Can Unicorns Fly?
The Pegasus VS The Unicorn
Pegasus, as mentioned by UnicornsUnited, came from Greek mythology, and was a specific character, given to Hercules by the gods. He was a magnificent winged horse, but did not have a horn; he was decidedly not a unicorn, therefore. Pegasus didn’t have many of the connotations which unicorns carried; he was not associated with good fortune or immortality, but was a companion and helper to Hercules.
Over the years, Pegasus has continued to appear in many shapes and forms, and “flying horses” are a very popular trope throughout literature and art. It makes sense, as horses were generally the fastest form of transportation, so an evolution which could make them infinitely faster, like the power of flight, would have fascinated people. Pegasus has evolved beyond his original incarnation as a single character, and the term has come to mean any flying horse, though it is still generally capitalized, reflecting its origin.
In my article Can Unicorns Fly, I discussed how the Pegasus has evolved alongside unicorns, but it’s important to note that it was originally entirely separate, and not connected with these great mythical beasts. The later connotation which they shared was likely due to the similarity in their looks, and to the limitation which unicorns appeared to have when compared with a Pegasus.
Winged unicorns- Pegacorn, Unicus, Alicorn
Pegasus can breed with unicorns, and their offspring usually take on characteristics from both parents. They have horns and bring good fortune and healing to those around them, but they also have amazing wings, and can take to the skies with ease.
These great creatures are an appealing idea and are becoming increasingly popular in today’s world. Confusingly, however, they have been given a choice of names, and different people refer to them in different ways. “Pegacorn” and “Unicus” are obviously attempts to blend the two names of their parents, as we have done with other species, such as the “liger” being the offspring of a lion and a tiger. It’s an obvious choice, but not enormously satisfying in this case.
Most dictionaries do not recognize any of the terms used here, but all are generally accepted across the internet and fan-bases. It’s important to be able to make the distinction between unicorns, Pegasi, and the hybrids they can produce, but the contention doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. Do you think you have a better name for these amazing hybrids? What would you call them if you could rename them?
“Alicorn” is the other term for these amazing animals, and this perhaps feels more reflective of their magical status. It comes from the Latin word for horn, according to Wikia, and seems a more serious way to describe these creatures.
All three of these terms are used to refer to these hybrids. This might be because they evolved unofficially, appearing in art and literature quietly, and were not instantly given a name. The slightly confusing blend of two creatures was then named using different strategies, and therefore several terms are used to refer to it.
For the sake of ease, I’ll refer to them as alicorns, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on what they should be called and why.
Alicorn VS Unicorn
According to Wikia, alicorns have been used to depict both darkness and light. This is somewhat surprising, given that unicorns are usually seen as a force for good, and the original Pegasus was a loyal, helpful companion to Hercules. Why they should have taken on darker connotations by being combined with each other is unclear.
According to some myths, alicorns have all the powers of a unicorn and a Pegasus combined. They are majestic creatures, as comfortable in the skies as upon the ground, and they can harness the magic of unicorns through their beautiful horns.
The term “alicorn” was also used to refer to the unicorn’s horn, according to Mythology.net. Here, the word refers to the actual substance the horn was made from, which was highly sought after. Many believed it could prevent poisoning, cure impotency, and improve longevity, so they used it for cups and other tableware. This is a fascinating early use of the word, but does create more confusion when using this term to refer to winged unicorns. You can read more about unicorn horn in my other article What Does a Unicorn Horn Look Like.
Alicorns do not appear by name in very much literature, though winged unicorns are sprinkled throughout history. Their presence is a reminder of how wonderful and enchanting mythical horses can be.
As mentioned, the word alicorn has two different meanings, and it’s interesting to note that the Merriam-Webster dictionary also lists the main definition for “alicorn” as being the horn of a unicorn. It doesn’t mention the hybrid creatures, perhaps because they remain on the edge of being officially recognized, or perhaps because it causes confusion. “Pegacorn” and “unicus” are similarly absent from the dictionary.
Merriam-Webster suggests that the term comes from the Italian word “alicorno,” meaning unicorn, and that this itself comes from the Latin “unicornis.” The confusion of having a word that occasionally refers to unicorns also refer to their winged offspring is obviously problematic, so it seems a standard needs to be established and adhered to.
The etymology of alicorn is obviously useful in that it refers to the unicorn side of the creature, but a few people have suggested that the “ali” could refer to flight, just as the “corn” refers to horn. This is a very neat explanation, and makes it all the more fitting to be applied to winged unicorns, but doesn’t solve the issue of using a word which has, in the past, been used to refer to unicorns. It seems a standard needs to be established so that these beautiful mythical creatures can be properly recognized and discussed without confusion.
Alicorns are born to unicorns and Pegasus, and either can be the father or mother. They look very similar to unicorns when young, as their wings tend to be small, fluffy appendages, with no hope of lifting them.
Their horns are similarly small, and incapable of performing much magic until the creature has had time to grow. Like a baby unicorn, alicorns are often slow to grow up, but their wings usually outpace their bodies, so it is not uncommon to have baby alicorns with over-sized wings tripping them up.
Alicorns don’t develop the ability to fly for some time; their wings must grow large enough to support them, and they need to strengthen their muscles. They usually practice by running with their non-winged cousins, beating their breast muscles. Once they take to the air, they tend to be clumsy and uncoordinated for a few days, but will quickly learn to fly with all the grace and elegance of their parents.
Alicorns will eat similar foods to unicorns, but they are even fonder of rainbows, and much more capable of getting near to them. Unicorns must find the place where the rainbow touches the ground, but alicorns and Pegasi can nibble on any part of the rainbow, even its crest, which is the sweetest and juiciest part.
These beautiful equines all stay with herds for protection and companionship, and alicorns are no exception. They are very fond of their cousins, both Pegasi and unicorns, and will play with them for hours. Despite the fact that alicorns combine the most powerful aspects of both species, they still enjoy competing against their cousins in races and magical games.
Do you know things about alicorns which we’ve missed here? We’d love to increase our understanding of these amazing creatures, so please let us know if there’s something more which should be included in this section.
My Little Pony Alicorns
My Little Pony may, to an extent, be responsible for the popularity which winged unicorns enjoy. A much-loved range of toys, it has frequently depicted the “ponies” as winged unicorns. MLP.Fandom recognizes the issues mentioned above with using alicorn to refer to these beautiful creatures, but acknowledges that it is still the most commonly used term, in spite of this.
My Little Pony adds to the confusion of winged unicorns. Many of its ponies have wings and horns while many have just horns, and the abilities of both are similar. They nonetheless seem to delight people of all ages and genders, but it is interesting to see that unicorns in their universe are given the power of flight, regardless of being winged or otherwise.
Alicorns seem to be given very high status in the My Little Pony universe. As MLP.Fandom says, they are depicted as royalty, and have been called Princess Ponies. Some of the most famous characters are alicorns, but it’s interesting to note that even My Little Pony occasionally favors the more simplistic “Pegasus Unicorn,” to refer to the hybrid, and seems to have some issues distinguishing between “unicorns” and “winged unicorns,” changing how it refers to them throughout the show. Obviously, it’s not a simple issue!
In case you are interested in more winged and without winged unicorns, we have made a nice list for you about unicorn movies. You have a chance to meet different unicorns going through them!
My Little Pony Flying Unicorn Toys
In case you are thrilled with flying unicorns from My Little Pony world, here are our favourite ones:
- Amazing Princess Celeastia – proudly Alicorn.
2. Beautiful Princess Twilight Sparkle- happy and cheerful
3. Shining Princess Luna – might be Pegasus?
Alicorns, Pegacorns, Unicus, Unisus – This Is How We Call Unicorns with Wings. Or Something Else?
No matter what we decide to call them, unicorns with or without wings are certainly amazing mythical beasts, with so much potential and majesty. They intrigue and enthrall us just as their non-winged cousins do, and their popularity seems to be constantly increasing.
Winged unicorns may cause confusion in terms of their name and their powers, but they certainly seem to appeal to our imaginations and creativity. It’s likely that as they grow in popularity, a name will become the established standard, particularly if they become an accepted mythical creature.
In the meantime, everyone will continue using the term which feels most fitting to them – and perhaps we’ll never agree! These creatures may keep their many epithets as they dance frustratingly between two mythical equines, neither one thing nor the other. Either way, we will probably continue to love them and construct fabulous powers for them.
If you’ve got a great idea about what they should be called, please let us know! We’d love to hear some creativity surrounding these great creatures, and find a name that suits them once and for all.