Fox Symbolism

Symbolism of Fox in Literature

Fox, as symbolism in literature, has been used in European and East-Asian cultures and stories for centuries. Foxes are represented as tricksters, sly or cunning animals. In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese folktales, foxes are powerful spirit beings. They are prominent characters in literature, media, films, and even games. The famous fox in literature is Mr. Fantastic Fox, written by Roald Dahl, is one of the most loved characters in books as well as animated films.  Also, another children’s animated tv show, Dora, the explorer, uses Fox Swiper, who represents a sneaky and sly personality, and competes with Dora in her quests. The phrase as sly as a fox and outfox are inspired by ‘fox’ and mean that a person is cunning and can beat others in intelligence, respectively. The word ‘fox’ has its roots in the word ‘fuhsaz’ means fox in proto-germanic language, which is derived from the German word ‘Fuchs’; the Old Norse word ‘Foa’ and also the Sanskrit word ‘puccha’ means tail.


In Africa, the Fennec village red fox symbolizes cleverness. Fox is also a symbol of cleverness in South African culture. According to Asian culture, the fox symbolizes intelligence, cunningness as well as mischief. Moche culture from Northern Peru, South America, believes the fox is a symbol of cleverness and is widely used in their artworks.


As per Japanese folklore, the fox symbolizes good fortune and good luck for a career. In Cambodia, people believe that seeing the fox is a sign of bad luck. Also, if a fox crosses paths with a person, it is a symbol of good luck. This belief is spread across Africa, Canada, Australia, and European countries. According to the Celtic culture, the Black fox is a symbol of bad luck. According to Russian superstition, stepping on Fox droppings is a symbol of good luck. This superstition was also believed by the tennis legend Maria Sharapova.


According to the ancient Native American culture, foxes represented protection. Fox also symbolizes self-protection as foxes have excellent capability to defend themselves from predators.


Foxes are also symbols of independence because they are smart and have their own mind. Foxes can’t be tamed or controlled by anyone. The Native Americans, who believe in astrology and possessing animal spirits, considered the red fox to symbolize independence. Also, if a person is born between November 23rd and December 21st, are believed to have the personality of the Red Fox.

Cunning and Sly

In Chinese culture, the fox represents cunningness. Also, Native Americans symbolize the fox as a cunning trickster. In East Asian and European cultures, it is believed that the fox is a symbol of cunningness due to their hunting skills. However, foxes are also considered evil. As per Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklore,  foxes are considered symbols of cunningness and powerful spirits named: Huli Ing in China, Kitsune in Japan, and Kumiho in Korea, respectively. In Celtic culture, Druids tribes considered foxes as cunning spirits who bring luck and magic. African Fennec fox symbolizes cunningness and cleverness. Fox symbolizes trickster as well as cunningness in areas like the Africa Dogon tribal community as well as Bulgarian and Russian folklore.


Blue foxes in dreams indicate that a person is looking for a soulmate. In a dream black fox symbolizes life’s mysteries and challenges. The red fox in the dream symbolizes cruelty in the person or close one. Dreaming of the grey fox is also considered a symbol of confusion, uncertainty, and disorder. White fox represents the betrayal of family and friends. According to Ancient Asian folklore dreaming of foxes also symbolize death and devastation. In Native American culture, if a person dreams about the fox, it represents healing and spiritual guidance. Muslims believe that dreaming of the fox is a warning of a person who might be playing tricks on them, lying, or even deceiving them.


Fox symbolizes creativity and passion as per the famous children’s story, Mr. Fantastic Fox, written by Roald Dahl. Native Americans believe the fox is also a symbol of intelligence, passion, and creativity because of their survival in the wilderness and hunting skills. In Japanese cultural myth, the fox represents abundance, intelligence, and creativity.


The Cree tribe, a Native American tribe from Canada, strongly believes the foxes are a symbol of wisdom.  One of the famous folklore narrates stories of the Fox Woman, who represents the spirit of great wisdom. Additionally, Native Americans considered that having the personality of foxes makes a person wise. Thus, the fox also stands as symbol of wisdom, passion, intelligence, and creativity. The red fox symbolizes wisdom and fertility.

Examples of Fox as Symbolism in Literature

Example #1

Fox/Fire Song By Margaret Atwood

Dear man with the accurate mafia
eyes and dog sidekicks, I’m tired of you,
the chase is no longer fun,
the dispute for this territory
of fences and hidden caverns
will never be won, let’s
leave each other alone.

I saw you as another god
I could play with in this
maze of leaves and lovely blood,
performing hieroglyphs for you
with my teeth and agile feet
and dead hens harmless and jolly
as corpses in a detective story

In this poem, Margaret Atwood compares a man with a fox. It implies that the man may have been unfaithful and cunning. He may also have caused harm to the speaker as she describes and wants to repay his action. Here, the fox is a symbol of cunningness and deceit.

Example #2

The Three Foxes by A. A. Milne

Once upon a time there were three little foxes
Who didn’t wear stockings, and they didn’t wear sockses,
But they all had handkerchiefs to blow their noses,
And they kept their handkerchiefs in cardboard boxes.

They lived in the forest in three little houses,
And they didn’t wear coats, and they didn’t wear trousies.
They ran through the woods on their little bare tootsies,
And they played ‘Touch last’ with a family of mouses.

They didn’t go shopping in the High Street shopses,
But caught what they wanted in the woods and copses.
They all went fishing, and they caught three wormses,
They went out hunting, and they caught three wopses.

One of the most beloved poems for kids describes the story of three foxes with human qualities and yet brilliant hunting skills where they are chasing and catching mice, worms, wasps, etc., in the woods. Here the three foxes are symbols of cleverness and talent.

Example #3

Fox By Alice Oswald

I heard a cough
as if a thief was there
outside my sleep
a sharp intake of air

a fox in her fox-fur
stepping across
the grass in her black gloves
barked at my house

just so abrupt and odd
the way she went
hungrily asking
in the heart’s thick accent

in such serious sleepless
trespass she came
a woman with a man’s voice
but no name

as if to say: it’s midnight
and my life
is laid beneath my children
like gold leaf

In this example, the poet is describing the visit from a fox who is looking for food in their house. The poet has displayed empathy for the fox, knowing it has to feed its family. Here the fox represents survival.

Example #4

The Fox By Kahlil Gibran

A fox looked at his shadow at sunrise and said, “I will have
a camel for lunch today.”  And all morning he went about looking
for camels.  But at noon he saw his shadow again—and he said, “A
mouse will do.”

This example is one of the most profound poems written by Kahlil Gibran. The poet describes the fox as a prideful creature who believes it is a large creature and realizes the truth at the end of the day. Here, the fox is a symbol of arrogance in the first verse and wisdom in the final.

Example #5

Red Fox By Frederic Prokosch

Red fox, moving, body close to the ground,
Moving with strange economy, without sound,
mind intent on the unstirring heather, intent
On your primitive path and the hard unfriendly ground,

Valuable beyond words seems your secret to me,
Red fox, that you should be able to judge a tree
By its trunk, and the sky by the greener sky in the water,
And the sea by the gray fog coming from the sea.

In the above poem, the poet is describing the red fox hunting instincts. In this example, the fox symbolizes survival and stealth.

Example #6

Fantastic Mr. Fox By Roald Dahl

“I therefore invite you all,” Mr Fox went on, ‘to stay here with me for ever.’

For ever!’ they cried. ‘My goodness! How marvellous!’ And Rabbit said to Mrs Rabbit, ‘My dear, just think! We’re never going to be shot again in our lives!’

We will make,’ said Mr Fox, ‘a little underground village, with streets and houses on each side – seperate houses for Badgers and Moles and Rabbits and Weasels and Foxes. And every day I will go shopping for you all. And every day we will eat like kings.’

The cheering that followed this speech went on for many minutes.”

In this example, Mr. Fox is inviting his friends and other neighboring creature to live with them under the three properties with a life-long supply of food. Here, Mr. Fox is a symbol of kindness and cunningness.

Example #7

The Little Prince By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Nothing’s perfect,” sighed the fox. “My life is monotonous. I hunt chickens; people hunt me. All chickens are just alike, and all men are just alike. So I’m rather bored. But if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don’t eat bread. For me, wheat is no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you’ve tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I’ll love the sound of the wind in the wheat…”

In this classic story, the fox and the little boy talk about their life and their role in their lives. The fox uses a heart monologue to talk about hunting and being hunted by people. He also requests the boy to make him his pet animal while listing his skills and the things he wants. Here the fox is a symbol of innocence and friendship.

Example #8

Quote By Matshona Dhliwayo

A single fox can outsmart a dozen wolves.

In this quote, the fox is a symbol of wisdom as wolves are aggressive creatures while foxes are stealthy in their attacks.