A goblin is a
creature that appears in the folklore of multiple European cultures, first attested in stories from the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical, Post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roma ...
. They are ascribed various and conflicting abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. They are almost always small and
grotesque Since at least the 18th century Italy (in French and German as well as English), grotesque has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, mysterious, magnificent, fantastic, hideous, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and ...

or outright malicious, and greedy, especially for gold and jewelry. They often have magical abilities similar to a
fairy A fairy (also ''fay'', ''fae'', ''fey'', ''fair folk'', or ''faerie'') is a type of mythical Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions comm ...

demon A demon is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural By definition, a supernatural manifestation or event requires ...

. Similar creatures include brownies, dwarfs,
duende A duende is a humanoid figure of folklore, with variations from Iberian Peninsula, Iberian, Ibero-America, Ibero American, and Filipinos, Filipino cultures, comparable to dwarf (folklore), dwarves, gnomes, or leprechauns. In Spanish ''duende'' ori ...

s, gnomes, imps, and kobolds.


Alternative spellings include ''gobblin'', ''gobeline'', ''gobling'', ''goblyn'', ''goblino'', and ''gobbelin''. English ''goblin'' is first recorded in the 14th century and is probably from unattested Anglo-Norman ''*gobelin'', similar to Old French ''gobelin'', already attested around 1195 in Ambroise, Ambroise of Normandy's ''Guerre sainte'', and to Medieval Latin ''gobelinus'' in Orderic Vitalis before 1141,CNRTL etymology of ''gobelin'' (online French)
/ref> which was the name of a devil or 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 language, Greek κόβαλος (''kobalos''), "rogue", "knave", "imp", "goblin". Alternatively, it may be a diminutive or other derivative of the French proper name ''Gobel'', more often ''Gobeau'', diminutive forms ''Gobelet, Goblin, Goblot'', but their signification is probably "somebody who sells tumblers or beakers or cups". 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". 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'', ''Gosselin'', ''Étancelin'', etc.) The Welsh language, Welsh ''coblyn'', a type of knocker (folklore), knocker, derives from the Old French ''gobelin'' via the English ''goblin''. The term ''goblette'' has been used to refer to female goblins.

Goblins in folklore

European folklore and collected folk stories

* A redcap is a type of goblin who dyes its hat in human blood in Anglo-Scottish border folklore. * Hobgoblins are friendly trickster goblins from English language in England, English, Scots language, Scottish, and Pilgrim folklore and literature. * The Benevolent Goblin, from ''Gesta Romanorum'' (England) * The Erlking is a malevolent goblin from German legend. * The Trasgu is a Northern Spanish and Northern Portuguese mythological creature of Celtic and Roman origin. * "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). * King Gobb (Moldovan Gypsy folktale) * Goblins are featured in the Danish fairy tales:''The Elf Mound'', ''The Goblin and the Grocer'', and ''The Goblin and the Woman''. * Goblins are featured in the Norwegian folktale ''The Christmas Visitors at Kvame''. * Goblins are featured in the Swedish fairy tales ''The Four big Trolls and little Peter Pastureman'', and ''Dag, and Daga and the Flying Troll of Sky Mountain'' where they alongside sprites and gnomes live among trolls. * Goblins are Featured in the French fairy tale called ''The Golden Branch''. * Goblins are featured in English, Scottish, and Irish Folklore where they are described as roaming around in marauding bands that pillage farms and villages, commune with the dead (especially on Halloween), and sell goblin fruits

Goblin-like creatures in other cultures

* A pukwudgie is a type of goblin from Wamponoag folklore as well as Cryptozoology * The Muki (mythology) is a pale goblin who lives in caves in the Andes in Quechuan folklore. Many Asian lagyt creatures have been likened to, or translated as, goblins. Some examples for these: * ''Chinese Ghouls and Goblins'' (England 1928) * ''The Goblin of Adachigahara'' (Japanese fairy tale) * ''The Goblin Rat'', from ''The Boy Who Drew Cats'' (Japanese fairy tale) * ''Twenty-Two Goblins'' (Indian fairy tale) * In South Korea, goblins, known as dokkaebi (도깨비), are important creatures in folklore. They usually appear in children's books. The nursery song 'Mountain Goblin(산도깨비)' tells of meeting a goblin and running away to live. * In Bangladesh, Santal people believe in gudrobonga which is very similar to goblins. Other Goblins had been identified with creatures from another culture: * Goblins sometimes became identified with jinn in Islamic culture.Although different from the concept of Goblin, namely Ifreet is a subcategory of jinn and it was translated as such, regardless of the differences.

Goblins in modern fiction

Goblinoids are a category of humanoid legendary creatures related to the goblin. The term was popularized in the ''Dungeons & Dragons'' fantasy role-playing game, in which goblins and related creatures are a staple of random encounters. Goblinoids are typically Barbarian, barbaric foes of the various human and "demi-human" Race (fantasy), races. Even though goblinoids in modern fantasy fiction are derived from J. R. R. Tolkien's Orc (Middle-earth), orcs, in his Middle-earth "orc" and "goblin" were names for the same race of creatures. The main types of goblinoids in ''Dungeons & Dragons'' are goblins, bugbears and hobgoblins; these creatures are also figures of mythology, next to ordinary goblins. In the ''Harry Potter'' book series and Wizarding World, the shared universe in which Harry Potter (film series), its film adaptations are set, goblins are depicted as strange, but civilised, humanoids, who often serve as bankers or craftsmen. The Green Goblin is a well-known supervillain, one of the archenemies of Spider-Man, who has various abilities including enhanced stamina, durability, agility, reflexes and superhuman strength due to ingesting a substance known as the "Goblin Formula". He has appeared in various Spider-Man related media, such as comics, television series, video games, and films, including ''Spider-Man (2002 film), Spider-Man'' (2002) and ''Spider-Man: No Way Home'' (2021) as Norman Osborn, and ''Spider-Man 3'' (2007) and ''The Amazing Spider-Man 2'' (2014) as Harry Osborn. In early English translations, ''The Smurfs'' were called goblins.

Goblin-related place names

* 'The Gap of Goeblin', a hole and tunnel in Mortain, France. * Goblin Combe, in north Somerset, UK * Goblin Valley State Park, Utah, US * Goblin Crescent, Bryndwr, Christchurch, New Zealand * Yester Castle (also known as "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.''Glasgow Street Names'', Carol Foreman, Birlinn, 2007, page 58. * 541132 Leleākūhonua (then known as ) is a minor planet in the outer solar system nicknamed "The Goblin"

See also

* Lutin * Púca * Puck (folklore) * Wirry-cow


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * * * * * {{Authority control Goblins,