Folklore encompasses such a broad range of human activities that any attempt to list the many genres and categories within it is bound to fall short. Accordingly, what follows is meant to be a representative survey, not an exhaustive one. Examples are included from each of the main forms of expression: oral, material, and behavioral (or customary).
A ballad is a traditional poem or folksong that tells a story, be it about true love, a heroic adventure, a scandalous interlude, or a tragic death, to name but a few possible topics. Historical examples date back to the Middle Ages.
Fairy tales are traditional stories, intended primarily for children, which recount human encounters with supernatural beings such as fairies, witches, ogres, and the like, most often conveying a cautionary message.
As distinct from fine art
, folk art comprises a range of artistic productions and handicrafts -- including paintings, sculptures, quilts, pottery, and furniture -- created by ordinary, unschooled folks using traditional styles and methods, and often employing imagery or symbolism from local mythology.
A folk dance (also sometimes called ethnic dance) is any dance that originated with the common people of a region or cultural group and has been handed down by tradition.
A folk song is a traditional song, anonymously composed and handed down orally, about commonplace topics including work, family, community, and the vicissitudes of everyday life.
A joke is a humorous story or anecdote meant to provoke laughter through irony, wordplay, the thwarting of expectations, the juxtaposition of images, and other long-practiced techniques.
A legend is a traditional historical tale or collection of related tales popularly regarded as true but usually containing a mixture of fact and fiction.
A myth is a traditional sacred story, usually featuring gods and heroes, which purports to give a cosmic explanation of a natural phenomenon or cultural practice.
A riddle is a linguistic puzzle posed in the form of a question containing clues to its solution.
A superstition is an irrational belief (i.e., one held in spite of evidence to the contrary), usually involving supernatural forces and associated with rituals.
An urban legend is an apocryphal story, often taking the form of a cautionary tale, which varies in the telling but is always told as true and attributed to a secondhand or thirdhand ("friend of a friend") source.