AskDefine | Define genie

Dictionary Definition

genie n : (Islam) an invisible spirit mentioned in the Koran and believed by Muslims to inhabit the earth and influence mankind by appearing in the form of humans or animals [syn: jinni, jinnee, djinni, djinny]

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Alternative spellings


From Arabic (jinn).



genie (p: genii)
  1. An invisible spirit mentioned in the Qur'an and believed by Muslims to inhabit the earth and influence mankind by appearing in the form of humans or animals.
  2. A fictional magical being that is typically bound to obey the commands of a mortal possessing its container.


See also

Extensive Definition

Genie (from Arabic جني jinnie) is a magical fiery spirit in Arabian folklore, and is mentioned in the Quran. The genie was incorporated into European folk tales with slightly modified characteristics.

Etymology and definitions

Genie is usual English translation of the Arabic term jinni, but it is not directly an Anglicized form of the Arabic word, as is commonly thought. The English word comes from French génie, which meant a spirit of any kind, which in turn came from Latin genius, which meant a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. The Latin word predates the Arabic word jinni in this context, and may have been introduced in the Arabian civilization through the Nabataeans. The root however, and its concept of being "hidden" or "concealed" still comes from the Semitic root "JNN" and from which the Arabic Jannah (garden or paradise) is derived.
Arabic lexicons, such as William Lane's lexicon provide the rendered meaning of Jinn not only for spirits, but also for anything concealed through time, status and even physical darkness. A classical Arabic use of the term Jinn is as follows:
And there is no concealment with vehement hatred as well as the averting look.
The first recorded use of the word Genie in English was in 1655 as geny, with the Latin meaning. The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights later used the word génie as a translation of jinni because it was similar to the Arabic word both in sound and in meaning; this meaning was also picked up in English and has since become dominant. The plural, according to Sir Richard Francis Burton, is Jann.

Jinn in pre-Islamic era

Amongst archaeologists dealing with ancient Middle Eastern cultures, any spirit lesser than Angels is often referred to as a “Djinn”, especially when describing stone reliefs or other forms of art. This practice draws on the original meaning of the term genie for simply a spirit of any sort.
Epigraphic Evidence
Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate worship of Djinn, or at least their tributory status. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi'el near Palmyra pays tribute to the "Ginnaye", the "good and rewarding gods" providing a sharp resemblance to the Latin Genius and Juno: The Guardian Spirits.
Types of Djinn include the ghul (“night shade”, which can change shape), the sila (which cannot change shape), the Ifrit , and “Marid[mʌˈɾɪd]. From information in The Arabian Nights, Marid seem to be the strongest form of Djinn, followed by Ifrit, and then the rest of the Djinn.
In the mid-east it is believed that the Djinn were spirits of smoke-less fire, although sometimes they associated them with succubi (demons in the forms of beautiful women). The feminine form of Djinn is “jinniyah” or “jinneyeh”.

Jinn in Islam

The Djinn are said to be creatures with free will, made from 'smokeless fire' by God, in the same way humans were made of earth. According to the Qur'an, Djinn have free choice, and Iblis used this freedom in front of God by refusing to bow to Adam when God told Iblis to do so. By refusing to obey God’s order he was thrown out of the Paradise and called “Shaitan” (See Shaitan and Satan). In the Qur'an, Djinn are frequently mentioned. Sura 72 of the Holy Qur'an (named Al-Jinn) is entirely about them. Another Sura (Al-Naas) mentions the Djinn in the last verse. It is also mentioned in the Qur'an that Muhammad was sent as a prophet to both “humanity and the Djinn”.
In the world there are three main creations, Angels, Humans and Jinns (other than various animals).
Angels: Angels are made from light (Noor-) In Islam known as Light of God. So they do not commit any sin nor disobey God and always worship him. Human: Humans are created from earth. And are given free will to do good or bad in this life. And because of the free will they will be answerable in the next life on the Day of Judgment (also commonly known as the Day of Resurrection, End of the World Day, and Accounts Day.) And because of that free will, those who follow and obey God (Allah), will be rewarded with paradise/heaven. In Islam it is told that Angels are pure and innocent but Human have the matter of desire. And in that desire some do good and some do bad deeds. So Human are given a higher status than Angels by God, because while having the will to do bad and desire to commit sin, Human can do good against bad, save themselves from desire of sin, and obey God and his prophet in the environment of sin and evil which then will make them better and get them heaven/paradise in reward after death. Jinns: Jinns are also in the category of humans in the sense of free will. The only difference is that they are made of smokeless fire therefore are not visible to humans, but they do exist and are in fact more than humans in number. Jinns have powers to fly and fit in to any space so they live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees and in the air in their own communities. We can't see them and they also can't see us clearly, Humans are only visible in very blurry image to them. And very few are able to see human like human can see other humans. Like humans, Jinns will also be judged on judgement day and will be sent to heaven or hell according to the life they lead.

Jinn in post-Islamic Arabic fiction

Evil Ifrit in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights are called “the seed of Iblis”.
The Spirit of the Lamp in the story of Aladdin, a familiar djinn to the Western world (see next section), was such a jinni, bound to an oil lamp. Ways of summoning jinn were told in The Thousand and One Nights: by writing the name of God in Hebrew characters on a knife (whether the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, or the Arabic Allah is used is not specified), and drawing a diagram, with strange symbols and incantations around it.
The jinn’s power of possession was also addressed in the fictional Nights. It is said that by taking seven hairs out of the tail of a cat that was all black except for a white spot on the end of its tail, and then burning the hairs in a small closed room with the possessed, filling their nose with the scent, this would release them from the spell of the jinn inside them. There are many myths like that..

Genies in Western culture

The Western interpretation of the genie is based on the Aladdin tale in the Western version of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which told of a genie that lived in an oil lamp and would grant the wishes of the owner of the lamp, as well as the genie in the tale of The Fisherman and the Jinni. Oddly, lore from these tales seem to get twisted and mixed into each other. Many western stories about genies tend to follow the same vein as the famous short story The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs, with the overriding theme of “be careful what you wish for”. In these stories, wishes can have disastrous, horrific and sometimes fatal consequences. Often, the genie causes harm to the loved ones or innocent people surrounding the wisher, making others pay for its master’s greed or ignorance. This also forms the basis of numerous three wishes jokes.
Exploiting loopholes or twisting interpretations of wishes is a classic trait amongst genies in Western fiction, with the genies either deliberately or unintentionally misinterpreting the wishes to give the wisher with exactly what they asked for without giving them exactly what they wanted. For example, in “The Man in the Bottle” episode of The Twilight Zone, a poor shopkeeper who finds a genie and wishes to become a leader of a great nation is transformed into Adolf Hitler at the very end of World War II. Often, these stories end with the genie’s master wishing to have never found the genie, all his previous wishes never to have happened, or a similar wish to cancel all the fouled wishes that have come before.
Awareness about the origins of the genie, and the use of the original spelling jinn has become more common. Usually, the term djinn is used by authors who wish to convey a more serious interpretation of the legendary entity, rather than the comical genies the Western public has become used to, such as Robin Williams' character in Aladdin.

Examples of Genies in fiction and popular Culture


  • Jinnicky the Red Jinn is one of Ruth Plumly Thompson's most popular original Oz characters. His most notable appearances are in Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, The Purple Prince of Oz and The Silver Princess in Oz.
  • Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe conjectures that the White Witch Jadis was not human (as was her claim), but was in fact half giantess and half Jinn, a descendant of Lilith, Adam’s “first wife”.
  • Christopher Moore’s book Practical Demonkeeping describes the pre-human origin of the Djinn and God’s favor for humans.
  • The “Djinn in charge of All Deserts” gives the lazy camel his hump in the story "How the Camel Got His Hump" from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
  • Djinn feature prominently in Tim Powers' supernatural spy novel Declare.
  • Several references to djinn occur in the final short story, entitled “Ramadan”, of Neil Gaiman’s sixth The Sandman collection, Fables and Reflections. In Gaiman’s novel, American Gods, an ifrit drives a taxicab in New York.
  • In the Bartimaeus Trilogy books by Jonathan Stroud, a djinni is a section of five major spirits, also including afrits (a form of Ifrit) as a creature of fire, marids, foliots, and imps. The trilogy focuses on a five-thousand year-old djinni named Bartimaeus and his unwilling alliance with a teenage boy.
  • In Rachel Caine’s series of books named Weather Warden, the Djinn appear frequently. The Wardens who control fire, weather and earth capture the Djinn in bottles. The two most powerful Djinn in the world are used in these series of books.
  • Dragon Rider, a novel by Cornelia Funke features a djinn named Asif. She stated he was colored dark blue. She also stated he had a thousand eyes, he was so large his shadow could darken an entire ravine, his pointed ears were larger than the wings of a dragon, he had a fat belly, and blue hairs thicker than saplings grow inside his nostrils. He is an example of a serious interpretation of a djinn. He lives in a gray car, materializes from blue smoke, has a thousand eyes, and is omnipotent.If you ask him a question, he will show you it in one of his thousand eyes. A human must ask, it must be seven words, and if Asif has the same question but before him, the questioner must serve him for their entire life. Funke did not state if you could escape him and no character did get to be a slave, but Asif did say to the dragon Firedrake that he made his skin itch so much that a thousand servants had to scratch it for him. The servants were not shown, but mentioned.
  • In the popular book series Children of the Lamp, John and Phillipa Gaunt discover that they are members of the djinn tribe Marid.
  • In the young adult’s book Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones, the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, there is a genie in a bottle and a pair of Djinn.
  • In Jinn a book by Matthew B.J. Delaney, the creature which is being hunted is a Jinn. Has been called "Saving Private Ryan meets Alien in Delaney's tense and involving first novel, a hybrid that transcends its several genres."
  • Julian referred to himself, as well as Jenny's Grandfather, as Djinn (Julian is a play on that name) in the Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith.
  • In the Necromancer Wars literary series, an evil djinn is captured by a wiccan coven and imprisoned in a bottle.
  • There are several passing references to djinna in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.
  • “The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye” is a short story by noted British writer A. S. Byatt published in a short anthology of the same name.
  • In the supernatural drama The Jinniyah by Maria Aragon, an Englishman during the reign of Henry the Eighth opens a gift decanter and gains unwanted immortality when he releases the female Jinn or Jinniyah inside.
  • In the 1891 Short story The Bottle Imp by Robert Stevenson tells of a wish granting demon in a bottle, that grants your wishes in exchange for your soul and the only way to remove the curse and get your soul back is to sell it before you die, for less than what you paid for and it can only be resold with coins.
  • In the Doctor Who novel The Stone Rose, the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler encounter an artificial life form called a GENIE- Genetically Engineered Neural Imagination Engines- in ancient Rome, capable of reshaping reality to grant wishes. The Doctor explained that these life forms, created in the future, were the actual inspiration for the genies of Earth tales when they travelled back into the past, but all but the original GENIE were erased from history when their creators realised that the power possessed by the GENIEs was tearing reality apart as people made more and more large-scale wishes


  • In the anime and manga series Dragon Ball Z, the character Mr. Popo is a djinn that protects Kami’s Lookout and the final and most powerful villain faced by the heroes was a stylistically-Arabic demon called Majin Buu. “Majin” is the Japanese word for “Magical Being” or “Genie.” Befitting the genie that he is, Majin Buu is a spirit formed from smoke and clouds that utilizes horrific transmutation sorcery which transforms living beings into candy to sate his monstrous appetite, as well as possessing incredible power that quite literally rivalled that of the most powerful gods in the Dragon Ball universe.
  • In the Vertigo comic Fables, a Djinn is released. In this comic, they are considered armong the most powerful creatures in existence.
  • In the comic Jesi The Genie, a former milk goddess is cursed with becoming a genie, and then released during the time of the Arabian Nights by a young man. Jesi also appears in the webcomic Gaijin Hi.
  • ClanDestine, a comic book series by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer and published by Marvel Comics, is about a family of British superheroes in the Marvel Universe, children of a human and a female djinn.
  • Comic fiction author Tom Holt titled one of his novels Djinn Rummy, combining the word Djinn with the popular card game Gin Rummy. The novel is in fact about a number of djinns in the human world, many of which who have corporate sponsoring. Djinns appear frequently in a number of Tom Holt’s books, though it is normally taken for granted that the reader knows some of the fictional background of these characters. (I.e. the books are somewhat chronological).
  • The DC Comic’s characters Johnny Thunder and Jakeem Thunder are masters of the djinn from the 5th dimension named Thunderbolt. Genies in the DCU are summoned by their masters by saying their name backwards. Thunderbolt's true name is Yz, which when said backwards sounds like "say you". Disgraced superhero Triumph was later manipulated by the evil djinn named Lkz, which when said backwards sounds like "so cool". After a conflict involving both the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America the two genies were merged together changing the Thunderbolt's summoning word to "so cool". The 5th dimension is also home to Superman's enemy, Mister Mxyzptlk. In the pages of JSA it was revealed that imps, like Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, are seen as something akin to children. Thunderbolt's son, Shocko and Shocko's wife Peachy Pet are also djinn.
  • Although not an actual genie, the wish-granting Id, created by the higher dimension beings known as the Cathexis from the JLA storyline Divided We Fall bore many similarities to genies, in that it granted wishes that gave the wisher exactly what was asked for without giving them exactly what was desired, occasionally responding simply to casual comments; the first sign of its presence occurred when it latched on to Superman's comment about how he wished heroes with dual identities sometimes didn't have to deal with the pressures of such a role and thus split six of the Justice League between their civilian and superheroic identity
  • In the anime and manga series Magic Knight Rayearth the princesses from Chizeta, Tarta and Tatra have two djinn how guardians.
  • in the anime and manga Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (Aladdin to Mahou no Lamp)from Toei Animation alladin have two djinn the Ring Servant and the Djinni of the lamp
  • In the Lebanon-published book Malaak (2007, first of a series), an angel with the appearance of a young girl fights evil jinns, which only she can see as they really are, who are involved in maintaining an ever-going civil war in an alternate reality Lebanon

Movies and television

  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) features Baronni, a child Genie, who is freed and joins Sinbad's crew.
  • The original Twilight Zone features two episodes with genies in them: "The Man in the Bottle" and "I Dream of Genie".
  • The sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, which began in 1965 and ran for five seasons, featured Barbara Eden as a 2,000 year-old beautiful blonde Persian genie completely infatuated with the American astronaut master that had found her bottle and set her free in modern America. It was spun off into the animated series Jeannie in 1973.
  • The horror film Wishmaster features a hateful and evil Djinn as its villain. The film has spawned three sequels.
  • In the 1996 film Kazaam, Shaquille O'Neal played a rapping genie who lived in a boombox.
  • In the animated series Martin Mystery, episodes called “Curse of the Djini” and “Return of the Djini” featured an evil djinn trapped in a skull that could read peoples' mind’s and make them say their wishes. If the djinn died then the wishes would be undone.
  • In the episode "The Wish" of the UPN horror/comedy series Special Unit 2, Special Unit 2 encountered an evil genie-like link who needed to grant 3,000 wishes in order to gain free will. Unlike traditional djinn, this genie did not have supernatural powers other than the ability to transform between gas and solid states. As a result, the genie had to carry out wishes physically. So for example if someone wished for a million dollars the genie had to break into a bank and steal a million dollars for them. If someone wished for a relationship with a beautiful model the genie would have to kidnap the model. These wishes almost always ended in disaster for the genie's masters. After 3,000 wishes had been granted the genie would no longer have to live in bottles or grant wishes.
  • The 1964 comedy The Brass Bottle features a genie (Burl Ives) who causes more problems than he solves for his master (Tony Randall) and his fiance, Barbara Eden (who herself would enter the bottle the very next year in I Dream of Jeannie.)
  • The 2005 Japanese tokusatsu TV series Mahou Sentai Magiranger introduced a genie character in the middle of the series named Smoky, the Magical Cat. He resided in a lamp, which also acted as a gun to assist his master (Hikaru/MagiShine) in battle. His American counterpart is that of Jenji in Power Rangers Mystic Force.
  • An episode of the TV series Charmed called "I Dream of Phoebe" has the Charmed Ones confronting a trickster Genie that is trying to gain its freedom by granting three wishes; another, previous wish featured another genie whose wishes unintentionally caused disaster for the sisters despite his efforts to help when his lamp fell into the wrong hands before the sisters managed to undo his wishes.
  • An episode of the CW paranormal drama Supernatural called “What Is And What Should Never Be” has Sam hunting a Djinn (which has Dean) which did not actually grant wishes. Instead, it would cause the victim to enter a dream state where their greatest wish was granted while the Djinn fed off their life.
  • Some episodes of TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured the introduction of vengeance demons, a race of demons who granted wishes for humans seeking revenge; like genies, these wishes commonly featured the exact wording of the wish being obeyed while not giving the wish-maker what they wanted, such as when Cordelia Chase's wish that Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale created a world where vampires were in control, or when Dawn Summers's wish that nobody would leave her resulted in the guests to Buffy's 21st birthday party being unable to leave her house.
  • In a Season 7 episode of The X-Files called "Je Souhaite", Mulder and Scully find a man and his dim-bulbed, wheelchair-bound brother who chooses three wishes which backfire increasingly. The cause of which is an indifferent genie whose willingness to grant wishes belies a deeper motive.
  • Desiree from the animated series Danny Phantom is a genie-like ghost who grants any wishes she hears, gaining power from the wishes that she grants.
  • In the film Long Time Dead the characters do a ouija board, which brings out a vengeful spirit named Djinn.
  • In Fairly Oddparents there's a genie named Norm voiced by Norm Macdonald (comedian), who, like traditional malevolent genies, grants the wish precisely without giving the wisher exactly what he wanted; although Timmy Turner- the series' main character- initially attempted to use Norm for three rule-free wishes in his first appearance, he subsequently realised his mistake and, having gained three more wishes by trapping Norm in another lamp, subsequently wished for a lawyer to help him draw up another wish to ensure that there would be no way for Norm to 'cheat' his way out of the wish.
  • In the 1940 movie The Thief of Baghdad, Abu the thief frees a genie from a bottle who promptly tries to kill him, but after Sabu tricks the genie back into the bottle, the genie gives him three wishes. Abu asks first for sausages, second to be taken to king Ahmad, and third, in a fit of anger in an argument, for Ahmad to go to Baghdad, after which the genie abandons Sabu. Fortunately, Abu destroys the All-Seeing Eye, which has freed good spirits that will help him defeat the evil Grand Vizier Jaffar.
  • In the 1945 film A Thousand And One Nights, Evelyn Keyes plays a voluptuous redheaded genie named Babs who is the Slave of the Lamp of Nador. She falls head-over-heels for her new master, Aladdin, and reluctantly helps him win the heart of a busty blonde princess.

Video games

  • The Game Genie cheat cartridge series was so named for its ability to change aspects of games at will.
  • In the videogames Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, players encounter Djinn as small benevolent creatures who use their powers to aid the protagonists in battle. There are 18 Djinn for each element. Note that some are hostile and must be beaten in combat to earn them.
  • The strategy game series, Heroes of Might and Magic, features Genies as playable characters and units. A Genie named Solmyr is also a major protagonist in the series.
  • In the 1980s video game Archon, the Djinn is the champion of the light side, opposite the Dragon who is champion of the dark side.
  • In the video game Primal, the world of Volca is inhabited by evil creatures called Djinns, led by King Iblis and Queen Malikel. Those Djinn live dormant in a volcano, awakening only when the volcano is about to erupt.
  • In the video game Sonic and the Secret Rings, there are two djinn: Shahra the Ring Genie, a Genie of the Ring, who assists Sonic through the game and Erazor Djinn, the game’s main villain who is a Genie of the Lamp.
  • In the video game series Final Fantasy, one of the summoned creatures is named Ifrit and offers fire elemental magic. Also, in Final Fantasy III the player must defeat a Djinn who has turned an entire town into ghosts.
  • The Pokémon Jirachi is said to grant any wish once it is written on a tag and attached to its three star points on its head.
  • Genies are a major plot element in King's Quest VI as part of the Green Isles folklore.
  • Iblis, while not being the main villain of the story, is featured as a summoned entity by the game's antagonist in second of the Quest for Glory games. The protagonist (Hero) also has the opportunity to summon a lesser djinn who grants him three wishes near the game's end.
  • In the Game Boy game Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land the games main villain uses a Genie to attempt to defeat Wario during the final boss battle.
  • In The Sims 2: FreeTime your Sims that have been created by yourself will get a Genie lamp by a gypsy, it will only grant 3 wishes per sim, after you have finished your wishes, you cannot have more.
  • In the Game Boy Advance game Mega Man Battle Network 3 White Version one of the Navis you must fight is Mist Man, whose appearance is that of a Genie.
  • In the expansion Hordes of the Underdark for Neverwinter Nights, there is a djinn you can encounter which acts as a portable merchant.
  • In the PC Online MMRPG in Darshia world, thare djinn selling items
  • In MMRPG Guild Wars, good and bad djinns are encountered. Good djinns protect treasures and people, and also grant wishes. Multiple bad djinns are seen as enemies through games.



  • al-Ashqar, Dr. Umar Sulaiman (1998). The World of the Jinn and Devils. Boulder, CO: Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations.
  • Barnhart, Robert K. The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology. 1995.
  • “Genie”. The Oxford English Dictionary. Second edition, 1989.
genie in Arabic: جن
genie in Bosnian: Džin
genie in Bulgarian: Джин (дух)
genie in Catalan: Djinn
genie in Danish: Djinni
genie in German: Dschinn
genie in Modern Greek (1453-): Τζίνι
genie in Spanish: Genio
genie in Esperanto: Ĝino (spirito)
genie in Persian: جن
genie in French: Jinn
genie in Galician: Xenio
genie in Indonesian: Jin
genie in Italian: Jinn
genie in Hungarian: Dzsinn
genie in Malay (macrolanguage): Jin
genie in Dutch: Djinn
genie in Japanese: ジン (アラブ)
genie in Portuguese: Gênio
genie in Russian: Джинн
genie in Scots: Genie (yairn)
genie in Sicilian: Geniu
genie in Simple English: Genie
genie in Serbian: Џин (ислам)
genie in Serbo-Croatian: Džin (islam)
genie in Finnish: Džinni
genie in Swedish: Djinner
genie in Tajik: Ҷин
genie in Turkish: Cin
genie in Urdu: جن

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Baba Yaga, Lilith, afreet, barghest, cacodemon, daeva, demon, devil, dybbuk, evil genius, evil spirit, fiend, fiend from hell, genius, ghoul, gyre, hellion, incubus, jinni, jinniyeh, lamia, rakshasa, satan, shedu, succubus, the undead, vampire, yogini
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