A water monster in Scandinavian folklore. The descriptions of the nicker may vary: sometimes it is a beautiful white horse, with its hooves in reverse; a handsome youth, half man and half horse, reminiscent of the Greek centaurs; a golden-haired boy wearing a read cap; or an old man with a green, wet beard. These creatures are said to inhabit watery places, such as lakes and ponds, rivers and streams, but also the seas.

They enjoy making music and when left alone they are generally benign and harmless towards human beings. A nicker may occasionally desire a human wife and will treat her well but if he is scorned he will turn into a vengeful, malicious being. Furthermore, if someone were foolish enough to try to ride one when they are in the form of a horse, he will be taken under water and is never seen again. Fishermen often used to place a metal object such as a knife on the bottom of the boat as a precaution, for it was believed that iron "bound" the nicker's power.

The nicker is known by many names in Scandinavia. On the Danish Faroe Islands it is called nickar, on the Danish island of Rügen it is called nickel. In Denmark it is further known as nøkke, and in Iceland it is called nickur (ninnir or haikur). On the Isle of Man and in the Manx language it is known as nikyr. See also neugle.



  • Rose, Carol. (2000). Giants, Monsters, and Dragons: An Encyclopedia of Folklore, Legend, and Myth. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.