World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0022555763
Reproduction Date:

Title: Goblin  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Duende (mythology), Orc, Wirry-cow, Mythic humanoids, Fairy
Collection: European Legendary Creatures, Goblins, Mythic Humanoids, Supernatural Legends
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous grotesque dwarf-like creature.

They are attributed with various (sometimes conflicting) abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases, goblins have been classified as constantly annoying little creatures somewhat related to the brownie and gnome. They are usually depicted as small, sometimes only a few inches tall, sometimes the size of a dwarf. They also often are said to possess various magical abilities. They are also very greedy and love gold or any type of jewellery


  • Name 1
  • European folklore and collected folk stories 2
  • Goblin-like creatures in other cultures 3
  • Goblin-related place names 4
  • Goblins in fiction and popular culture 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8


Alternative spellings include gobblin, gobeline, gobling, goblyn, and gobbelin.

English goblin is first recorded in the 14th century and is probably from unattested Anglo-Norman *gobelin,[1] similar to Old French gobelin, already attested around 1195 in Ambroise of Normandy's Guerre sainte, and to Medieval Latin gobelinus in Orderic Vitalis before 1141,[2][3] which was the name of a devil or a daemon haunting the country around Évreux, Normandy.

It may be related both to German kobold and to Medieval Latin cabalus, or *gobalus, itself from Greek κόβαλος (kobalos), "rogue", "knave", "imp", "goblin".[2][4] Alternatively, it may be a diminutive or other derivative of the French proper name Gobel, more often Gobeau,[5][6] diminutive forms Gobelet, Goblin, Goblot, but their signification is probably "somebody who sells timblers or beakers or cups".[7] Moreover, these proper names are not from Normandy, where the word gobelin, gobelinus first appears in the old documents. German Kobold contains the Germanic root kov- (Middle German Kobe "refuge, cavity", "hollow in a rock", Dial. English cove "hollow in a rock", English "sheltered recess on a coast", Old Norse kofi "hut, shed" ) which means originally a "hollow in the earth".[8][9] The word is probably related to Dial. Norman gobe "hollow in a cliff", with simple suffix -lin or double suffixation -el-in (cf. Norman surnames Beuzelin,[10] Gosselin,[11] Étancelin,[12] etc.)

The Welsh coblyn, a type of knocker, derives from the Old French gobelin via the English goblin.[13][14]

European folklore and collected folk stories

Illustration of a goblin
  • The Benevolent Goblin, from Gesta Romanorum (England)[15]
  • Erlking is a malevolent goblin from German legend.
  • The Goblin Pony, from The Grey Fairy Book (French fairy tale)
  • The Goblins at the Bath House (Estonia), from A Book of Ghosts and Goblins (1969)
  • The Goblins Turned to Stone (Dutch fairy tale).[16]
  • Gwyn ap Nudd was ruler over the goblin tribe. (Welsh folklore) [17]
  • King Gobb (Moldovan Gypsy folktale)

Goblin-like creatures in other cultures

Many Asian mythical creatures have been likened to, or translated as, goblins. Some examples for these:

  • Twenty-Two Goblins (Indian fairy tale)[19]
  • In South Korea, goblins are known as Dokkaebi (도깨비). They are especially important mythical creatures in Korean folklore. They usually appear in children's books.

Goblin-related place names

  • 'The Gap of Goeblin', a hole and underground tunnel in Croxteth under the Green residence where Daniel Green resides feeding on children's bones and ectoplasm to survive.[20]
  • Goblin Combe, in north Somerset, UK
  • Goblin Valley State Park, Utah, U.S.
  • Goblin Crescent, Bryndwr, Christchurch, NZ
  • Yester Castle (aka 'Goblin Hall') East Lothian, Scotland
  • Goblin Bay, Beausoleil Island, Ontario, Canada
  • Cowcaddens and Cowlairs, Glasgow, Scotland. 'Cow' is an old Scots word for Goblin, while 'cad' means 'nasty'. 'Dens' and 'lairs' refers to goblin homes.[21]

Goblins in fiction and popular culture

  • The Pilgrim's Progress, a Christian allegory by John Bunyan (1678 England), includes the words "Men: ...we also saw there the hobgoblins, satyrs, and dragons of the pit;"
  • The early 17th century English ballad "Tom O'Bedlam" begins "From the hag and hungry goblin/that into rags would rend ye"
  • George MacDonald (1872)
  • Goblins are represented in chitinous shells on their backs.
  • The 1973 film Don't Be Afraid of the Dark portrays a house infested with goblins; it was remade in 2011. In both versions the Goblins are small, intelligent, nimble and evil creatures with a penchant for preying on children. They feed on human teeth and are afraid of light.
  • In the Jim Henson Productions film Labyrinth, the Goblins are led by Jareth the Goblin King (played by David Bowie). The Goblins in this film range from a few inches to several feet in height. Each of the Goblins comes with a variety of descriptions. Some Goblins have small eyes, some Goblins have large eyes, some Goblins have protruding eyes, some Goblins have horns, some Goblins have hair, and some Goblins don't have hair. It has been implied by Jareth that the Goblins were once human children.
  • Goblins are shown in diminutive form in the film Legend. The Goblins serve the Lord of Darkness.
  • Goblins play an important role in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. They guard the wizard bank Gringotts and are portrayed as clever, arrogant, greedy, and churlish.
  • Despite its title, goblins are featured as the main villains in the cult film Troll 2.
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins, and Other Little Creatures depicts them as originating in the British Isles, from whence they spread by ship to all of Continental Europe. They have no homes, being wanderers, dwelling temporarily in mossy cracks in rocks and tree roots.[24][25]
  • Jack Prelutsky's children's poetry book It's Halloween includes a poem called "The Goblin", in which a little boy describes "A goblin as green as a goblin can be, Who is sitting outside and is waiting for me".
  • In Enid Blyton's Noddy children's books and their adaptations appear small humanoids called goblins, who are often very mischievous.
  • There are many (human) villains in Marvel Comics whose names include the word "goblin", and who use a goblin motif, such as several incarnations of the Green Goblin as well as Hobgoblin, Demogoblin and Grey Goblin. Most of them are enemies of Spider-Man with some of them being created through the result of the Goblin Serum. The villain Menace is also a goblin-type villain.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the goblins appear as green-skinned creatures, a little shorter than humans, carrying iron weapons and sometimes lockpicks. They are seen as "dirty little beasts", and can be found in sewers or abandoned houses and forts.
  • Goblins are usually the main opponents in Dwarf Fortress. They are described as evil creatures having green skin and glowing red eyes. They often kidnap children of the other races and raise them as goblins.
  • Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl depicts goblins as reptilian entities having lidless eyes, forked tongues, and scaly skin. The goblins in the series are dull-witted and have an ability to conjure fireballs.
  • In The Spiderwick Chronicles, goblins are portrayed as small, grotesque toad-like creatures born without teeth who therefore use broken glass and rocks as dentition. They have a chaotic behavior and will only behave orderly if ordered so by a more powerful villain, such as the ogre Mulgarath.
  • Jeff Cooper, creator of the "Modern Technique" of firearm handling and self-defense, commonly referred to adversaries as "goblins" in his commentaries.[26][27]
  • In Laini Taylor's "Lips Touch" Goblins are portrayed as sly magical creatures that lure young girls into eating their magical fruit so that they can collect their souls.
  • In The 7D episode "The Enchanted Shoes," Goblins are depicted as small gray characters that only speak in goblin language (which is mostly "gob") and like fish sticks.

See also


  1. ^ T. F. Hoad, English Etymology, Oxford University Press, p. 196b.
  2. ^ a b (online French)gobelinCNRTL etymology of
  3. ^ Du Cange et al, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis ...(online French and Latin) [1]
  4. ^ κόβαλος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  5. ^  
  6. ^ HOAD, p. 196b.
  7. ^ Albert Dauzat, Noms et prénoms de France, Librairie Larousse 1980, édition revue et commentée par Marie-Thérèse Morlet. p. 295b Gobel.
  8. ^ Duden, Herkunftswörterbuch : Etymologie der deutschen Sprache, Band 7, Dudenverlag, p. 359 : Kobel, koben, Kobold.
  9. ^ HOAD, p. 101b.
  10. ^ in France (online French)BeuzelinGéopatronyme : surname
  11. ^ Géopatronyme : surname Gosselin in France (online French) Gosselin
  12. ^ in France (online French)ÉtancelinGéopatronyme : surname
  13. ^ Franklin, Anna (2002). "Goblin", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies. London: Paper Tiger. ISBN 1-84340-240-8. p. 108
  14. ^ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English
  15. ^ Apples4theTeacher - short stories
  16. ^ Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks, 1918, compiled by William Elliot Griffis
  17. ^ Sacred texts
  18. ^ Rick Walton - folktale
  19. ^ Sacred texts
  20. ^ Ghosts, Goblins, and Haunted Castles, Aventinum Publishers, 1990 in English, page 51
  21. ^ Glasgow Street Names, Carol Foreman, Birlinn, 2007, page 58.
  22. ^ SF Site
  23. ^ F, S (2008). "Stronghold Creatures". Age Of Heroes. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  24. ^ The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins, and Other Little Creatures by Pierre Dubois, in English 2005
  25. ^ Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen, 1987
  26. ^ "Glossary". Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  27. ^ "Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries #7". 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 

Further reading

  • British Goblins: Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions by Wirt Sikes
  • Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins, and Other Little Creatures by Pierre Dubois
  • Goblins! and The Goblin Companion by Brian Froud
  • Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes and Goblins: an Encyclopedia of the Little People by Carol Rose
  • Davy And The Goblin by Charles E. Carryl (1884)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.