|Country||Northwestern Europe, Scandinavia, British Isles, United States|
They are attributed with various (sometimes conflicting) abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases, goblins are little creatures related to the brownie and gnome. They are usually small, sometimes only a few inches tall, sometimes the size of a dwarf, and have magical abilities; they are greedy, especially for gold and jewelry.
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, 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, 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". 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 timblers 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.)
European folklore and collected folk stories
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- The Benevolent Goblin, from Gesta Romanorum (England)
- 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).
- Gwyn ap Nudd was ruler over the goblin tribe. (Welsh folklore)
- 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:
- 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 are known as Dokkaebi (도깨비). They are especially important mythical creatures in Korean folklore. They usually appear in children's books.
- '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.
- 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.
Goblins in fiction and popular culture
- The Goblins, a comedy play by Sir John Suckling (1638 England; the title alludes to thieves rather than actual goblins)
- 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"
- The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (1872) depicts the Goblins as grotesque humanoids, vulnerable to sunlight, song, and pressure on their feet.
- The 19th century Irish song "Rocky Road to Dublin" includes the words "I cut a stout blackthorn, to banish ghosts and goblins".
- Little Orphant Annie, a poem by James Whitcomb Riley, includes the words "An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you ef you don't watch out!" (1885)
- J. R. R. Tolkien generally used the terms goblin and orc synonymously in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. These works, featuring goblins of almost-human stature, generally informed the depiction of goblins in later fiction and games. William Thompson writes, "In The Hobbit – whose title character resembles the traditional hobgoblin, thinly disguised by name and role – Tolkien's goblins, though villains, retain a hint of earlier portrayals as scamps, with their bumbling efforts, punctuated by boisterous and doggerel song, posing little threat to the story's heroes and perhaps reflecting the novel's intended young audience. Yet, in notes for the novel, he acknowledges an indebtedness to MacDonald, and while his goblins may appear burlesque, they are also grotesque, filthy, and wicked, preying upon travelers from underground lairs." Thompson adds that, in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien has "abandoned all pretence at depicting goblins in a comic light, instead casting them as the great evil race of Middle-earth..."
- Goblins are portrayed as roughly half the size of adult humans as non-player characters in the tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, which influenced most later depictions including the games Akalabeth, Ultima, Tibia, RuneScape and World of Warcraft (they become a playable race in the WoW expansion World of Warcraft: Cataclysm). In the 1980s Goblins were depicted as a separate race subservient to the Orcs in the Games Workshop tabletop game Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Games Workshop also popularized the depiction of goblins with bright green skin. Warcraft adopted both of these concepts from Warhammer. The Warcraft goblins are very technologically advanced. Goblins are also present as the first tier creature in the Orc faction in Heroes of Might and Magic V: Tribes of the East.
- Goblins are represented in Magic: The Gathering as a species of predominantly Red-aligned creatures generally organized into various tribes, and are usually depicted as fierce and war-mongering, but of comically low intelligence. Most are similar to other depictions of goblins save those of the Akki race, which bear 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. 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 are hairless. It has been implied by Jareth that the Goblins were once human children.
- Goblins are shown in diminutive form in the film Legend, wherein 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.
- The Hollow Kingdom Trilogy by Clare B. Dunkle features a creative re-imagining of goblins, elves, and dwarves.
- 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.
- "The Goblin Trilogy" (Dance of the Goblins, Demoniac Dance, Power of the Dance) by Jaq D. Hawkins depicts goblins as descendants of humans who mutated over time due to circumstances of living under ground and have developed a primitive, tribal society with a strong spiritual connection to the earth through ecstatic dance.
- "The Goblin Series" (Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero, Goblin War) by Jim C. Hines is a whimsical series of stories about a runt goblin named Jig and his per fire spider and their adventures among heroes, hobgoblins and the derisive behavior of his own kind.
- 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.
- In Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King, there are goblins in that movie who are led by the Goblin King (voiced by Tim Curry). Other known goblins in that film are Glob (voiced by James Belushi) and Glum (voiced by Larry Joe Campbell)
- Jeff Cooper, creator of the "Modern Technique" of firearm handling and self-defense, commonly referred to adversaries as "goblins" in his commentaries.
- In Clash of Clans, the Goblins are categorized into Tier #1 of the players' troops alongside the Archers and the Barbarians. They are noted for their ability to deal double damage to structures containing loot (gold and elixir).
- 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.
- The CHIKARA professional wrestling tag team The Batiri featured Kobald, a goblin who teamed with two demons, Obariyon and Kodama.
- Goblin (disambiguation)
- Goblins in modern fiction
- Terry Pratchett (novelist)
- The Goblin Mirror (novel)
- T. F. Hoad, English Etymology, Oxford University Press, p. 196b.
- CNRTL etymology of gobelin (online French)
- Du Cange et al, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis ...(online French and Latin) 
- κόβαλος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
- Harper, Douglas. "Goblin". The Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
- HOAD, p. 196b.
- Albert Dauzat, Noms et prénoms de France, Librairie Larousse 1980, édition revue et commentée par Marie-Thérèse Morlet. p. 295b Gobel.
- Duden, Herkunftswörterbuch : Etymologie der deutschen Sprache, Band 7, Dudenverlag, p. 359 : Kobel, koben, Kobold.
- HOAD, p. 101b.
- Géopatronyme : surname Beuzelin in France (online French)
- Géopatronyme : surname Gosselin in France (online French) Gosselin
- Géopatronyme : surname Étancelin in France (online French)
- Franklin, Anna (2002). "Goblin", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies. London: Paper Tiger. ISBN 1-84340-240-8. p. 108
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English
- Apples4theTeacher - short stories
- Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks, 1918, compiled by William Elliot Griffis
- Sacred texts
- Rick Walton - folktale
- Sacred texts
- Ghosts, Goblins, and Haunted Castles, Aventinum Publishers, 1990 in English, page 51
- Glasgow Street Names, Carol Foreman, Birlinn, 2007, page 58.
- SF Site
- Thompson, William (2005). "Goblins". In Gary Westfahl. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders 1. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 348. ISBN 0-313-32951-6.
- F, S (2008). "Stronghold Creatures". Age Of Heroes. Retrieved 2011-02-24.
- The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins, and Other Little Creatures by Pierre Dubois, in English 2005
- Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen, 1987
- "Glossary". Survivalblog.com. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- "Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries #7". Scribd.com. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
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- Briggs, K. M. (2003). The Anatomy of Puck. London: Routledge.
- Briggs, K. M. (1967). The Fairies in English Literature and Tradition. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
- Briggs, K. M. (1978). The Vanishing People. London: B.T. Batsford.
- Carryl, Charles E. (1884). Davy And The Goblin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- Dubois, Pierre (2005). The Complete Encyclopedia of Elves, Goblins, and Other Little Creatures. New York: Abbeville Press. ISBN 0-789-20878-4.
- Froud, Brian (1996). The Goblin Companion. Atlanta: Turner.
- Froud, Brian (1983). Goblins!. New York: Macmillan.
- Page, Michael and Robert Ingpen (1987). British Goblins: Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were. New York: Viking.
- Purkiss, Diane (2001). At the Bottom of the Garden. New York: New York University Press.
- Rose, Carol (1996). Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes and Goblins: an Encyclopedia of the Little People. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO.
- Sikes, Wirt (1973). British Goblins: Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions. Wakefield: EP Pub.
- Silver, Carole G. (1999). Strange and Secret Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Zanger, Jules (1997). "Goblins, Morlocks, and Weasels". Children's Literature in Education (Oxford: Oxford University Press) 8: 154–162.