Who is Jenny Greenteeth? English Folklore

In the north-west of England, a vicious and malevolent witch-like creature called Jenny Greenteeth haunts unsuspecting victims and is feared by all who know of her. 

But who exactly is Jenny Greenteeth? What does she look like? And what is the background of this English folktale?

Who is Jenny Greenteeth?

Jenny Greenteeth was not pleasing on the eye
Jenny Greenteeth was not pleasing on the eye

Jenny Greenteeth, sometimes known as Ginny Greenteeth or Wicked Jenny, is an English mythical witch that dwells in rivers in the north-west of England. 

In appearance, she is a humanoid female water-hag with dull and crooked green teeth, scraggly hair, pointy features, and long gangly limbs. According to many representations, she also has green skin to match the colour of her teeth. 

There are many ways in which you can keep an eye out for Jenny Greenteeth, but perhaps the most common indicator that she is nearby is the presence of duckweed or pondweed on the surface of a body of water. This is believed to be used as a hiding place by Jenny Greenteeth and she hides beneath the weeds, waiting for her prey. 

The origin of Jenny Greenteeth is unclear, but is likely she was based on similar creatures in other mythologies, such as Bunyip in Australian mythology and the Kappa in Japanese mythology. The legend of Jenny Greenteeth has also spread into American folklore, where she is said to haunt the waters of Lake Erie. 

What does Jenny Greenteeth do?

The water hag hid beneath duckweed
The water-hag hid beneath duckweed

It is believed that Jenny Greenteeth was invented to frighten children into good behaviour, much like the Bogeyman and Black Annis

Indeed, Jenny Greenteeth was said to exclusively target children, and she would lurk beneath the water and pounce on unsuspecting children while they were out playing.

She would use her long limbs and bony fingers to capture her victims, before devouring them with her sharp teeth. 

Despite predominantly living under water, the mythical hag would also spend some time in tall trees scanning the area for future victims. An eerie, whistling sound in the wind is an indication that she is nearby and is stalking her next prey.      

Where does Jenny Greenteeth live?

Jenny Greenteeth has been said to live in all bodies of water, from rivers and ponds to canals and sewage systems. The legend originates from the north-west of England – particularly around Liverpool and parts of Lancashire. 

Yet, the myth has also infiltrated folklore in other parts of the country, too. In North Staffordshire and Shropshire, for example, she is also believed to prey on the young and the elderly. 

The legend of Jenny Greenteeth is far reaching, and she has made numerous appearances in popular media, including Terry Pratchett Discworld novels, Dungeons & Dragons, and various films and video games.   

Get in Touch

Have you heard any first hand stories about Jenny Greenteeth from friends or family? Or perhaps there is a similar mythical creature near you? Let us know in the comment section below!

For any enquiries, contact me at richard@mythologyplanet.com

4 thoughts on “Who is Jenny Greenteeth? English Folklore”

  1. This has just been a question on The Chase. I can remember my parents telling me about Ginny Greenteeth the ‘witch’ who lurked in the bogs that were either side of The Formby Bypass that we travelled through from MAGHULL to Formby by car to my Ninny”s. There were thick trees there then in the 1950s but now the woods are much more sparse. The area may have been Lancashire then but now it comes under Merseyside. This came up in work last year, by me, but only one colleague had heard of her. But I can remember there were 2 witches not one, but I cannot remember the name of the 2nd one. My friend, Tony Buck (deceased) used to give me & my friend a lift home after working in Shorriocks Hill inightclub in Formby. Tony was a doorman there. He had been a wrestler when younger & brought home a bronze medal for our country in the Olympics yet he said if he broke down ‘in the woods’ he would not get out & walk but wait in the car until the morning. The road/woods still scare many people. Do you know the name of the 2nd witch? Regards Jo D

  2. In reference to Ginny Greenteeth :
    When I was growing up, my mum
    often told me stories of her life when she was a girl.
    North West Manchester, Salford.
    She lived close to the River Irwell.
    She had to walk past the river, to go
    to piano lessons.
    But was warned to be careful.
    Not to look at the water, stay as far from side as possible Because
    Ginny Greenteeth draws you in.
    Due to the fright, she refused to go,
    once she was able to play a few music pieces.
    Her friends were also warned of
    Ginny Greenteeth.

  3. I heard the name ‘Jenny Greenteeth’ linked to the River Tees, when I was a kid in the 70’s, as a warning not to go into the river. It was highly polluted due to all the industry around Teesside.


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