The Muppets are a group of puppets and costume characters, and the company created by Jim Henson. Individually, a Muppet is properly any one of the puppets built by the Jim Henson Workshop. Though the term is often used erroneously to refer to any puppet that resembles the distinctive style of The Muppet Show and Sesame Street characters, the term is both an informal name and legal trademark linked to the characters created by The Jim Henson Company. After frequently changing hands since the death of creator Jim Henson in 1990, The Muppets have been owned by The Walt Disney Company, through the Muppets Holding Company, since early 2004.
The word “Muppet” itself was said by Henson to have been created by combining the words “marionette” and “puppet”; however, Henson was also known to have stated that it was just something he liked the sound of, and he made up the “marionette/puppet” story while talking to a journalist because it sounded plausible.
Muppets are distinguished from ventriloquist “dummies”, which are typically animated only in the head and face, in that their arms or other features are also mobile and expressive. Muppets are typically made of softer materials. They are also presented as being independent of the puppeteer, who is usually not visible, hidden behind a set or outside of the camera frame.
Muppets are not puppets and will never appear on a show with puppets.