List of Moomin characters
The original Swedish names are given in parentheses, with the etymologies and word associations suggested by Bertills 2003.
The Moomin family
- Moomintroll (Mumintrollet: invented mumin + troll, "troll") (Also simply Moomin) (Muumipeikko in Finnish) - the main character of most of the books, a spirited troll with a keen sense of adventure and fun. Moomin lives life fully, and views the world with a feeling of wonderment for such simple pleasures as collecting stones and shells. As gullible as he is enthusiastic, he is also naïve and extremely good-natured. He is in love with The Snork Maiden. In the cartoon strip he finds himself beset by endless problems, and is almost always unhappy, though this is by no means the case in the books.
- Moominmamma (Muminmamman) (Muumimamma in Finnish) - the mother of Moomintroll. She very rarely gets cross and takes even the most distressing circumstances (such as the arrival of a comet, or being washed away by a flood) in her stride. Moominmamma would permit anything to her child and his friends, even smoking (she says it's good for the stomach). Moominmamma is almost never without her handbag, which contains essentials like woolly socks, tummy powder, and bark. She makes bark boats every summer, and the first one goes to her favorite.
- Moominpappa (Muminpappan) (Muumipappa in Finnish) - orphaned in his younger years, he is a somewhat restless soul who left the orphanage to venture out into the world in his youth but has now settled down, determined to be a responsible father to his family. He is almost always wearing his black top-hat, inside which is painted, "M.P. from your M.M." to differentiate it from all the other top hats in the world. Moominpappa also lived on a ship with three Hattifatteners for a few days, observing their behaviour.
- Sniff (Sniff: sniffa, "to snuff/sob; to sniff") (Nipsu in Finnish) - Moomintroll's immature friend. He is a small animal of unknown species, though he somewhat resembles a brown rat or mouse. He is one of the few characters who is sincerely interested in money, and is always on the lookout for another way to get rich quick.
- Snufkin (Snusmumriken: dialectical snusmumrik or mumrik, "old man who talks carelessly; old codger, old bore; old snuff-taker; snotty or scruffy old man," derived from snus, "snuff," + interjection mum, also in mumla "mumble," with pejorative ending -ik) (Nuuskamuikkunen in Finnish) - Moomintroll's best friend, who goes south every winter and returns in the spring. He is the son of the Mymble and the Joxter, and is half-brother to The Mymble's Daughter and Little My. Snufkin is an adventurer and a vagabond, admired by those who are small and shy. Snufkin wears old green clothes and a wide brimmed hat he's had since birth. He lives in a tent, smokes a pipe, and plays the harmonica. Snufkin also has a great dislike for The Park Keeper, and the many regulation signs and fences he puts up. At one point he sabotages The Park Keeper by planting Hattifatteners in his garden, causing them to grow and drive him out. He is based on Tove Jansson's friend Atos Wirtanen.
- Little My (lilla My: my, "micron, mu") (Pikku Myy in Finnish) - She is a small, determined and fiercely independent Mymble. When she wants something done, she does it straight away. She is very aggressive and totally disrespectful, but can be a good friend. She has a brash personality. She is Snufkin's half-sister. A comment in MoominPapa at Sea about people who have been adopted may be read as implying that little My was adopted into the Moomin family.
- The Snork Maiden] (Snorkfröken: snorkig, "snooty, snotty"; fröken, "Miss") (Niiskuneiti in Finnish) - Moomintroll's fair lady friend and admirer. She does fall in love with others sometimes, but returns to Moomintroll before things get too serious. She has blonde hair and sports a golden anklet. She changes color according to her mood, with her baseline color in the books described as pale yellow. Snorks are almost identical to Moomintrolls except that Snorks come in different colors (Moomintrolls are white), and a Snork's skin changes color depending on their mood.
- Snork (Snorken) (Niisku in Finnish) - The Snork Maiden's brother, also friends with Moomintroll. He and his sister first meet Moomintroll in Comet in Moominland. He is described as mauve in colour, though changes to a pale green when frightened. His character is obsessive over details, rules and protocol in the books. In the Japanese TV series, he develops as an avid inventor, constructing crazy things including once a tricycle for Moominmamma's birthday.
- The Groke (Mårran: morra "to growl; to grumble") – She is cold and ghostlike, and represents loneliness and all that is scary in the world of Moomin. She seeks warmth and fire, but is unable to do anything but to put them out. Although she has a scary appearance and is dangerous to get close to due to the cold that she's radiating, she's not really evil... Just very lonely. Makes first appearance in Finn Family Moomintroll and returns in Moominland Midwinter and Moominpappa at Sea. The Groke is used for an exclamation, often like the word 'Lord'. ("The Groke knows...")
- Hemulens (Hemul: hemul, a legal term, "authority or warrant for something (n.), entitled (adj.)") (In Swedish "Hemulen" means "the hemul") – Hemulens feature frequently in the books. One of them is an avid stamp collector, and another is an avid skier. A female Hemulen raised Moominpappa in an orphanage, and later Moominpappa met her aunt, who looked confusingly like her. Other characters frequently find the Hemulens annoying or overwhelming, as they can be somewhat loud, bossy, abrasive and insensitive, but they are well intentioned and usually have other redeeming qualities. In the beginning of Finn Family Moomintroll, a hemulen who is a keen stamp collector is depressed, as he has every stamp on the face of earth and has lost the purpose in life. Later on he finds a new purpose: to collect plants. In Finn Family Moomintroll, "un-Hemulenish" (ohemul) contains a sense of "unwarranted, unjustified."
- Hattifatteners (hatifnattar: with the first element compare hatta, "dither"; it has also been suggested that as "the incarnation of Moominpappa's wanderlust" they make reference to his hat, with which they are pictured in "The Invisible Child", and -i may indicate smallness; the second element is related to fnatta (omkring), "flutter around"; få fnatt, "go crazy or get excited over something"; poss. fnatt, "squirrel"; associated in Moominsummer Madness with snöbollschampinjoner, "snowball mushrooms") – Small white ghost-like creatures that resemble worn socks. Hattifatteners are always on the move and travel in large groups (but always in odd numbers), such as boat convoys. Their only goal in life is to reach the horizon. During their travels they never say a word to each other, and it's doubtful that they have the ability to talk at all, they seem to communicate solely by telepathy – except in the comics, where they complain bitterly to their host Moomin about the lack of food, cocktails and beds. The Hattifatteners cannot see very well, but their sense of touch is very strong, and they can feel ground vibrations and electricity. Hattifatteners assemble once a year when they "recharge" in a thunderstorm. At this time they should be avoided since they are highly charged and can give you electrical burns. Despite physiologically resembling animals, Hattifatteners grow from seeds. Planting Hattifattener seeds where someone has taken up residence is an effective way to get rid of him/her. Hattifatteners will only grow from this seed if it is sown on Midsummer Eve.
- Too-Ticky (Too-ticki) – A friend of the family, craftsman and practical philosopher. Has her first appearance in the novel Moominland Midwinter and returns in the short stories of Tales From Moominvalley and in comics. The character and the name are modelled after Tuulikki Pietilä, Tove Jansson's life partner.
- The Mymble (Mymlan: mymla, a slang word used in Tove Jansson's circle, with the meaning "to love"; compare mumla, "to mumble") – Mother of Little My, Snufkin, and The Mymble's Daughter. She has many, many children, but is very jolly. She has had an affair with the Joxter in The Exploits of Moominpappa.
- The Mymble's Daughter (Mymlans dotter) – later known as simply The Mymble (Mymlan), she is the oldest of Mymble's many children. Every bit as independent as her youngest sibling, little My, Mymble's daughter is very proud of being the oldest sibling, and considers it her duty to raise Little My.
- Fillyjonk (Filifjonkan: no semantic meaning, but with the first element compare filibuffare "joker", filidera, "make bad noise", and with the second, fjompa/fjanta/fjolla + -an = "silly/foolish/fussy woman") – Known as The Fillyjonk in some English translations, the first we hear of is the late theatre director in Moominsummer Madness (the Rat is his widow) and the young Fillyjonk who joins the Snork Maiden in the late night jaunt to the wishing well. Later we meet the wonderful psychological study of the Fillyjonk Who Believed In Disasters in Tales from Moominvalley. Not a single moment of fantasy or joy, only duties and discipline; she is an extremely methodical person tied down with principles and has a deep rooted belief in prestige and tradition. Nevertheless, after a catastrophe, The Fillyjonk can be freed from the trammels of social expectation and can discover the joys of freedom, irrationality and self-expression. Deep inside she has had a wish to live freely as the Moomin family does, without any worries. Fillyjonks resemble humanoid rodents; they are tall and thin, with long muzzles and raccoon-like rings around their eyes.
- Ninny (Ninni: a real female first name, mostly used as a nickname, e.g. for Anna) – Ninny first appears in "Tales from Moominvalley" in the story, "The Invisible Child". She turned invisible by being frightened too much by her former caretaker. This caretaker gave Ninny to Too-ticky, who then brought her to Moominmama to help make Ninny visible again. Moominmamma succeeds with one of her granny's 'Infallible Household Remedies' and lots of love. Ninny at first is a bore and doesn't know how to play games or have fun. She becomes completely visible during a day on the beach. Moominpappa plans on sneaking up and scaring Moominmamma, but Ninny rushes up behind and shoves Moominpappa into the sea. In the end, the family realizes Ninny is very similar to Little My.
- Toffle (Knytt: as a common noun also translated "creep," e.g. småknytt "little creatures/creeps"; knytte, "bundle; (fig.) term of endearment for infants, 'little mite'; (in some dial.) short and/or plump woman"; knytt, dialectical noun from knyst, "not the slightest sound") - Toffles are small creatures, shy, scared and confused. A toffle called Salome is featured in "Moominland Midwinter" and a toffle only named as "Toffle" is the main character in Who Will Comfort Toffle?.
- Miffle (Skruttet: also as a common noun, det lilla knyttet/skruttet, "the little creep"; skrutt, a noun with "various meanings, although with one common feature, that is something small or something weak, rubbish (skräp, "garbage"), trash or core, which in turn also suggests something quite insignificant and worthless, about to be thrown away. When referring to persons, it is slightly depreciatory, used especially for inferior, sick, incompetent or weak persons (the noun often denotes older persons: skröplig gubbe, "weak old man"). But the noun is also used for small beings with supernatural characteristics, particularly in fairy tales."). Toffle's love-object in Who Will Comfort Toffle?
- The Hobgoblin (Trollkarlen) - Appearing in "Finn Family Moomintroll", he is a powerful magician who travels the Universe with his flying panther, looking for the King's Ruby. His top hat is found in the Lonely Mountains by Moomintroll, Snufkin and Sniff, who take it back to Moominhouse. Chaos ensues, as anything you put inside the hat is transformed. Moomintroll himself is changed into a strange creature by the hat when he uses it to hide in during a game. The hat also changes the Moominhouse into a sort of jungle. The Hobgoblin has a quite intimidating appearance, but is friendly. His name in Swedish literary means "The Wizard" or "The Magician".
- Thingumy and Bob (Tofslan och Vifslan: tofs, "tuft"; dialectical vivsa, "tuft," cf. vifta, "wave"; compare the names of Tove Jansson and Vivica Bandler) - Two little creatures who turn up in Moominvalley with a large suitcase, which contains the King's Ruby. They speak a strange language (with "-slan" appended to the ends of some words in the Swedish original, which became spoonerisms, e.g. :"'Man you cake it out?' asked Thingumy. 'Mot nutch,' said Bob", in the English translation) and are pursued by the Groke who wants the contents. They upset Moominmamma by stealing her handbag. They eventually return it and the whole family throws a party to celebrate. The Hobgoblin arrives when Thingumy and Bob open the suitcase, exposing the King's Ruby for all to see. While they didn't give him the ruby, when the Hobgoblin gave everyone there a wish they wished for the Hobgoblin to have a ruby as beautiful as theirs; the Queen's Ruby
- Stinky (Stinky: from English) - A criminal by profession, trickster, and a dangerous influence who tempts the Moomin family to do things that are against the law. He has a code of conduct of his own, and is offended when the Moomins want to give him a large sum of money which has been causing them much trouble. Physically, Stinky looks like some sort of furry mammal, whose most characteristic attribute is his constant, unbearable stench. He appears in one book ("The Unwanted Guest") but mainly in comics and cartoons.
- Niblings (klippdassar: "rock hyraxes"; compare dassa, "patter or sneak around, walk quietly; (in some areas) hurry up when working; (in child language and rhymes) dance"; also called by the variant name klibbtassar, explained as klibba/klibbig, "to stick/sticky" + tass, "paw") - small aquatic creatures, which chew off people's noses if they are too long for their taste. They enjoy doing the multiplication contests devised by the rather bossy Hemulen's Aunt.
- The Muskrat (bisamråttan) - a philosopher who believes in the pointlessness of things and reads Spengler, appears in Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll. The Moomin children annoy him by putting hairbrushes in his bed and such like. He eventually takes to living in the cave Sniff discovers in order to get some peace. There is an unfortunate accident, however: in Finn Family Moomintroll, Moomintroll has hidden the Hobgoblin's hat there; anything you put in the Hobgoblin's hat becomes transformed, and the Muskrat gets a nasty shock when he puts his false teeth in it to keep the sand out of them.
- Hodgkins (Fredrikson: a real family name) - an inventor and childhood friend of Moominpappa (The Exploits of Moominpappa). He is Muddler's uncle. He builds the Oshun Oxtra (misspelling of Ocean Orchestra in English, known as Haffsårkestern in Swedish), a boat in which Moominpappa and his friends travel on their adventures.
- The Joxter (Joxaren: joxa, " to mess up; fiddle about with something") - Snufkin's father and childhood friend of Moominpappa (The Exploits of Moominpappa). He is very lazy. He had an affair with the Mymble.
- The Muddler (Rådd-djuret: rådda "to fuss or muddle or mess about" + djur, "animal") - The nephew of Hodgkins and Sniff's father. A rather untidy and confused individual who collects buttons of all sorts and lives in the coffee tin where he keeps the buttons. Married to Fuzzy.
- Fuzzy (Sås-djuret: såsa, "to linger; to loiter" + djur, "animal") - Sniff's mother. Married to Muddler.
- The Island Ghost (spöket) - a spectre that haunts the Island colonised by Moominpappa in " The Exploits of Moominpappa". He isn't very good at haunting and gets annoyed when the colonists laugh at him. He takes up knitting to soothe his nerves.
- The Ancestor (Förfadern) - the Moomintrolls descend from ancient creatures living in tiled stoves. One of those is still dwelling in the Moomin family's bathing house cupboard and stove. He is called the Ancestor and makes appearances in Moominland Midwinter and Moominvalley in November.
- Misabel (Misan: misär, "misery"; miserabel, "miserable") - a very depressed and paranoid female character. In comics and picture books, she is usually the Moomin family's domestic help. Misabel has her only novel appearance in Moominsummer Madness, in which she is not a domestic help, but shows up to be a good actress. She is sometimes the owner of Sorry-oo. It has been said that Misabel's initial reaction to anyone talking to her is fear of them complaining about the quality of her work.
- Whomper (Homsan: in the plural Whompses in Who Will Comfort Toffle?; homsa or håmsa, "rush, hurry, bustle, or muddle about (v.); do something carelessly (for example work), usually with bad results (v.); untidy or careless female (n.)") - an earnest little chap. He joins the Moomin family on the floating theater in "Moominsummer Madness".
- Emma (Emma) - the rather bitter stage rat (teaterråtta). She helps the Moomin family understand what a theater is and also collaborates with Moominpappa on his play, "The Lion's Brides." Before she introduces herself, the family refers to her as Theprop(the prop) after a misunderstanding.
- The Park Keeper (parkvakten) - a Hemulen in charge of a park where the vegetation is trimmed and cut into proper lines and shapes. The park goes by very strict rules, mostly forbidding things, which are written out in big letters on several signs placed around the park. Of all the people in the world, the Park Keeper is the only one Snufkin really dislikes. Snufkin plants Hattifattener seeds in the grounds of the park to drive the Keeper away and then burns all the signs forbidding things.
- Sorry-oo (Ynk: ynklig, "poor; miserable"; ynka sig, "moan (v.)"; or ynka, "insignificant") - a small dog appearing in various relations - however, he is always melancholy and longing. He has his only novel appearance in Moominland Midwinter, in which he is constantly howling after his distant cousins the wolves. In The Dangerous Journey, he is called "Sorry-oo Le Miserable" (Ynk von Jämmerlund: jämra sig, "to moan"; jämmer, "moaning," as in jämmerdal, "vale of tears"; playing on family names in Finland with von, which indicates a foreign name, and -lund).
- The Dweller Under the Sink (den som bor under diskbänken) - a small furry creature that lives under the sink in Moomin House. He only appears in Moominland Midwinter and becomes known to Moomintroll when he wakes up during the long winter hibernation undertaken by the whole Moominfamily. Moomintroll tries to strike up a conversation with him by complimenting on his rather bushy eyebrows, but only succeeds in upsetting him.
- Edward the Booble (dronten Edvard: dronten, "dodo") - a gigantic monster (the second largest creature in the world - only his brother is larger) who pays for people's funerals if he accidentally treads on them. He is generally bad tempered because of this. He accidentally aids the launch of the Oshun Oxtra (Ocean Orchestra), a boat invented by Moominpappa's childhood friend, Hodgkins, by sitting in a river bed.
- Daddy Jones (Kungen/Självhärskaren) - the Autocrat in "Exploits". He owns a fairground full of surprises, sits on a throne and gives a blast on his foghorn when he makes royal proclamations.
- The Lady of the Cold (Isfrun) - a very creepy, beautiful lady who brings winter to Moominvalley. Looking into her eyes will turn you into a block of ice.
- Toft ((homsan) Toft: for homsan see "Whomper"; Toft is perhaps imaginary, though homonymic with toft, "thwart (n.), rowlock") - a small, very shy boy who appears in "Moominvalley in November". Toft makes up one of the people visiting the Moomins while they are absent. He is very mysterious and seems to have the power to make things he imagines, come true. He is also able to use Moominpapa's crystal ball. In the original book, Toft is a whomper, but the English translator translated his character into a "boy".
- Grandpa Grumble (Onkelskruttet: onkel, "uncle," also used in the meaning "grandfather"; for the second element, see under Miffle) - an old man who appears in "Moominvalley in November". He is quite old and somewhat senile. He uses a cane and owns many pairs of glasses that he carries with him in a basket.
- Gaffsie (Gafsan: gafsa, "chatter; tittle-tattle") - not much is known about Gaffsie, except that she is a friend of Fillyjonk. She appears in "Tales from Moominvalley" in the stories "The Fillyjonk who Believed in Disasters," and also appears in the story "The Fir Tree." She is also mentioned in Moominvalley in November.
- The Witch (Häxan) - The Witch looks quite scary and has some powerful magic in her possession, but is a harmless old lady despite her strong dislike of the Moomins. She would prefer Alice not to play with them and pay more attention to her studies, but does warm up for them later on. (This character does not appear in the original stories or comics.)
- Alicia (Alisa) - Alice, the Witch's granddaughter, likes the Moomins and plays with them on the sly whenever the Witch is otherwise occupied. She is a witch-in-training herself, and develops several magic skills during the series, most notable walking on water, underwater breathing, and lightning speed. (This character does not appear in the original stories or comics.)
There are other characters who appear from time to time.
Several primary characters largely disappear from the later books in series. Most notable of these are Sniff and the Snork Maiden, who are after all members of the extended family and live with the Moomins in several books. But after The Exploits of Moominpappa, Sniff is suddenly and inexplicably no longer mentioned, and after Moominland Midwinter, the Snork Maiden, too, is absent from the stories. (They do not vanish completely, however, since Sniff later on plays a major role in both the short story Cedric in Tales from Moominvalley and in the picture-book The Dangerous Journey, the Snork Maiden is mentioned a few times in Moominpappa at Sea, and they both appear as minor characters in An Unwanted Guest.)
- Yvonne Bertills, Beyond Identification: Proper Names in Children's Literature, 2003, an Åbo Akademi University dissertation exploring extensively the etymology and nature of the names in the Moomin series
- Anne Laitinen: Muumit ensimmäisenä lehtenä julkaissut Ny Tid palkittiin (Turun Sanomat 7.11.2006)
- "I'm not saying anything about some mothers and fathers", drawled Little My. "If I do, the first thing you'll say is that they're never silly. They're up to something, those two. I'd eat a bushel of sand if I knew what it was." "You're not supposed to know", said Moomintroll sharply. "They know perfectly well why they're behaving a little oddly. Some people think they're so superior and have to know everything just because they've been adopted!"– MoominPappa at Sea, page 16
- Bertills 2003, p. 126
- Bertills 2003, p. 132