Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


A goblin is an evil or mischievous creature of folklore, often described as a grotesquely disfigured, elf-like phantom.

According to some traditions, their name comes from Gob or Ghob, the king of the gnomes, whose inferiors were obviously called Ghob-lings. However, according to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English the name probably derives from the Anglo-French *gobelin (medieval Latin gobelinus), which is probably a diminutive of Gobel, a name related to the word Kobold.

Goblins in art and literature

Christina Rossetti, in the poem "Goblin Market", used goblins as symbols of earthly desires that tantalize and nearly destroy a girl who falls under their spell.

Author George MacDonald, in The Princess and the Goblin, portrayed them as malevolent, subterranean creatures. The book is said to have been a childhood favorite of J. R. R. Tolkien, who populated his Middle-earth with goblins but later preferred to call them orcs in order to distance them from fairy tale characters.

In many fantasy role playing games and books goblins and orcs are usually different, but related, creatures - goblins are smaller cousins of orcs. See: goblinoid.

Goblins also figure prominently in the Jim Henson film Labyrinth, in which a powerful sorcerer (Jareth the Goblin King, portrayed by David Bowie) commands a legion of foul, diminutive, largely incompetent creatures. The goblins initially do the bidding of a young girl (played by Jennifer Connelly), who must ultimately overcome her fear of them and resist seduction by their king.

See also Goblins (Harry Potter).

See also