Unicorn, Alicorn, and Pegasus: A Detailed Explanation of the Differences

One of the differences lies in their appearance. A unicorn is a horse with a horn on its head, while a pegasus is a horse with wings. On the other hand, an alicorn is a horse with both!

Over the years, these three creatures have been confused as only one. In fact, only a fan of fictional novels and Greek mythology knows their exact difference. If you’re into fiction but you get confused, too, I understand you must be pretty interested in learning about getting to know them better.

They have different superpowers, too! I’ll provide a detailed account of them and a bit of background and history. This way, you can enjoy your favorite genre more!

Let’s dive right in!

What’s a Unicorn?

A unicorn is a mythical creature representing a horse with a single spiraling horn projecting from its forehead.

The term unicorn also has a non-literal or symbolic meaning. This term is used for highly desirable things but is very difficult to find or obtain.

For example, you can use it in a sentence: “This album is something of a unicorn.” This means that the album is hard to find and is very valuable.

It’s basically a mythological animal that resembles a horse or even a goat with a single horn. This creature appeared in early Mesopotamian artworks and was also referred to in ancient myths of India and China. However, the beast described in early writings wasn’t precisely a horse but a rhinoceros.

The earliest description of such an animal with a single horn was in Greek literature. The historian Ctesias related that the Indian wild ass was the size of a horse.

It had a white body, a purple head, blue eyes, and on its forehead was a horn. This horn had many colors. It was red at the tip, black in the middle, and its base was white.

Since this time, this creature has been associated with magical powers. People believed that whoever drank from its horn would be protected from epilepsy, poison, or even stomach issues.

Historical Roots and Symbolic Evolution of the Unicorn

Moreover, this creature was hard to tame and capture. This is where the other symbolic, nonliteral meaning of unicorn comes from. However, the actual animal that Ctesias was describing was the Indian rhinoceros, and people got it wrong.

A few of the passages from the Bible also refer to a solid and splendid horned animal known as re’em. This word was translated to unicorn or rhinoceros. Besides, the ancient Greek bestiary states that a unicorn is a strong and fierce animal.

Medieval writers started using these mythical creatures in the work that they produced. This is where unicorns started coming into writings of novels and then fictional movies later on. It’s described as a creature of great power and wisdom.

What’s a Pegasus?

Pegasus is another mythical creature that resembles a horse but has wings.

In Greek mythology, Pegasus is a winged horse that sprang from his mother’s blood, Medusa, when she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. Later, pegasus was captured by another Greek hero, Bellerophon, who rode him to his fight.

As Bellerophon attempted to fly with Pegasus to the heavens, he was somehow killed. This winged horse became a constellation and servant of Zeus.

The constellation is an extensive pattern of stars marked by a great square. These four bright stars form the body of the winged horse.

The story of Pegasus has been a favorite theme in Greek art and literature. In modern times, Pegasus’ soaring flight has been regarded as a symbol of poetic inspiration. It’s considered an immortal creature.

It’s considered one of the most recognized creatures in Greek mythology. This horse is depicted as pure white. This might be the reason why it’s considered a symbol of the immortality of the soul.

Are Unicorns and Pegasus Alike?

No, they aren’t even interchangeable.

Most unicorns resemble equines, but some have goat-like features. The best-known version of a unicorn has a straight gold or nacreous spiral horn, which resembles a narwhal’s tusk. In simple words, it looks like an idealized white pony with a goat’s hooves.

While Pegasus is the name of winged horses from a few specific Greek myths, you might be familiar with Pterippi. It was the first term for winged horses before Pegasus became popular.

Pegasus was just the name of a pegasus who became famous because he was born by escaping the life’s blood of Medusa when she was decapitated. The people used it as the name for the whole creature, which stuck that way.

Are Alicorns and Unicorns the Same Thing?

No, for its unicorn and pegasus offspring.

In short, an alicorn is a mix of a pegasus and a unicorn. It has wings as well as a horn on its forehead. It’s basically a flying unicorn.

The word “Alicorn’s” literal meaning is a unicorn’s horn. As you may know, winged unicorns have been a part of Literature for thousands of years. The ancient Assyrian seals portray them alongside winged bulls.

The alicorn and the winged bulls have been claimed to represent the forces of evil. The Achaemenid Assyrianseven portrayed alicorns as symbols of darkness on their engraved seals.

In art, this mythical horse has been portrayed to have a white coat and wings but can also come in different colors. At its core, it’s a horse with feathery wings similar to those of a pegasus.

A rearing unicorn shot under the sun.
According to descriptions, this is how a unicorn would look.

In the same way, Asian cultures don’t distinguish between an alicorn and a unicorn. The horn of this mythical creature is said to possess magical healing qualities. This isn’t surprising as the creature itself is written about with considerable magical abilities.

Is Alicorn a Real Animal?

No, there’s no proof yet.

This term was coined by the show “My little pony.” It’s a top-rated show, especially among young girls who desire to be a princess.

Before this show popularised the term- alicorn, People used many other names for this creature throughout history. Here’s a list of a few words that have been used instead of “alicorn” before:

  • Winged Unicorn
  • Cerapter
  • Unisis
  • Pegacorn
  • Hornipeg
  • Hornisis
  • Unipeg

What Powers Do Alicorns Have?

Alicorns are associated with many magical abilities and powers. As they’re a combination of all three equestrian races, they have each. They’re more rounded, wide-eyed, and colorful.

Here’s a list of their powers and abilities:

  • Enhanced agility
  • Enhanced speed
  • Enhanced strength
  • Magic attacks: They use their horns to expel magical energy in the form of a destructive light beam.
  • Telekinesis: They can hold objects using their magic instead of their mouths.
  • Levitation: They can use their magic to hover in the air, even with wings.
  • Longevity: Some believe that they’re considered genuinely immortal. While others think they have extended lifespans.

Pegasus vs. Unicorn vs. Alicorn

The significant difference is in their appearance.

As we know, unicorns are horses with a horn. They don’t have any wings and are generally taller and slimmer than pegasus. On the other hand, the pegasus is a horse with wings. They’re generally shorter and stockier than alicorns and unicorns.

Whereas alicorns have horns and wings, they’re much taller and slimmer than pegasus.

But what about their color?

Mythical CreaturesColoring
AlicornFemales: Shimmery silver
Males: Blue tipped wings
Pegasus Silvery-White
and sometimes Black
This table summarizes each of these mythical creatures’ depicted colors.

Alicorns are known for good fortune and can bring healing to those around them. However, they also have excellent wings and can fly really high into the skies.

Alicorns are used as symbols to depict both darkness and light. This is opposed to what its parents’ character is.

Unicorns are usually seen as a force of good. And the original Pegasus was also a loyal and helpful companion to Hercules. That’s why it’s unclear why alicorns have taken on a darker connotation as they’re a combination of two of the purest mythical creatures.

What About Their Abilities?

Another difference between these mythical creatures is related to their powers and abilities. Unicorn has magical powers, and they can heal sickness. It can also render poisoned water potable.

While pegasus has the strength to fly and heal sickness, it can carry thunder and lightning to Zeus. It can also create springs of water by pounding his hoof.

A statue of a pegasus.
Its constellation is said to help those looking towards the sky for guidance. This is also why it was regarded as a companion and helper to Hercules.

On the other hand, unicorns are an embodiment of purity. They’re set in the center of the wilderness. In addition, they’re a breed of creatures who are sentinel and guardians of the forest.

While Pegasus had wings, the unicorn had a horn. They both were equine in form and were ivory white. They both had intelligence and were known to be brave when needed.

Further to the magical powers of Alicorns mentioned, they can also rise and set the moon, sun, and stars.

Take a look at this video explaining the difference between alicorns, unicorns, and pegasus:

Just familiarize their characteristics, and you’ll remember them easily.

Final Thoughts

Creature Differentiation:

  • Unicorn: A horse with a single horn, often linked to magical powers.
  • Pegasus: Greek winged horse, symbolizing inspiration and immortality.
  • Alicorn: Blend of unicorn and pegasus, with horns, wings, and magical healing abilities.

Historical Confusion:

  • Over time, these creatures are confused but understanding differences enhances the fan experience.

Unicorn Origins and Symbolism:

  • Originated in Mesopotamian art. It is often depicted as a white horse.
  • Symbolically, “unicorn” refers to highly desirable yet elusive things.

Pegasus in Greek Mythology:

  • Born from Medusa’s blood, and symbolizes poetic inspiration. It is depicted in white to represent soul immortality.

Alicorn Definition and Powers:

  • A blend of unicorn and pegasus.
  • Possesses wings, horns, agility, telekinesis, and longevity.

Alicorn Symbolism:

  • Associated with both light and darkness. It challenges traditional purity perceptions.

Creature Appearances and Colors:

  • Unicorns: Taller, slimmer, horned, often silvery-white.
  • Pegasus: Shorter, stockier, winged, usually silvery-white with occasional black.
  • Alicorns: Taller, slimmer, with horns and wings. Females are silvery, and males have blue-tipped wings.

Abilities and Roles:

  • Unicorns: Symbolize purity and healing, with the power to purify water.
  • Pegasus: Known for flying, strength, loyal companionship, and assistance.
  • Alicorns: Combine unicorn and pegasus abilities, including flight, healing, and magical attacks.

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