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goblin

[gob-lin] /ˈgɒb lɪn/
noun
1.
a grotesque sprite or elf that is mischievous or malicious toward people.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English gobelin < Middle French < Middle High German kobold goblin; see kobold
Synonyms
Goblin, gnome, gremlin refer to supernatural beings thought to be malevolent to people. Goblins are demons of any size, usually in human or animal form, that are supposed to assail, afflict, and even torture human beings: “Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd, …” (Shak. Hamlet I, iv ). Gnomes are small beings, like ugly little old men, who live in the earth, guarding mines, treasures, etc. They are mysteriously malevolent and terrify human beings by causing dreadful mishaps to occur. Gremlins are thought to disrupt machinery and are active in modern folklore.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for goblin
  • He mopes around with the air of a moon-struck goblin.
  • Then enjoy pumpkin painting, face painting and our goblin and ghoul egg hunt.
  • Dress as your favorite character and come play goblin games, eat gory food and drink witches' brew.
  • At the goblin ball, she preferred dancing with moppet to dancing with toby.
British Dictionary definitions for goblin

goblin

/ˈɡɒblɪn/
noun
1.
(in folklore) a small grotesque supernatural creature, regarded as malevolent towards human beings
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Middle High German kobolt; compare cobalt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for goblin
n.

early 14c., "a devil, incubus, fairy," from Old French gobelin (12c., as Medieval Latin Gobelinus, the name of a spirit haunting the region of Evreux, in chronicle of Ordericus Vitalis), of uncertain origin, perhaps related to German kobold (see cobalt), or from Medieval Latin cabalus, from Greek kobalos "rogue, knave," kobaloi "wicked spirits invoked by rogues," of unknown origin. Another suggestion is that it is a diminutive of the proper name Gobel.

Though French gobelin was not recorded until almost 250 years after appearance of the English term, it is mentioned in the Medieval Latin text of the 1100's, and few people who believed in folk magic used Medieval Latin. [Barnhart]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for goblin

in Western folklore, a wandering sprite that is usually mischievous but often malicious. Goblins supposedly live in grottoes but attach themselves to households, where they are believed to bang upon pots and pans, snatch nightclothes off the bodies of sleeping people, move furniture at night, and flee after rapping on walls and doors. They are thought to help parents discipline children by rewarding the latter with presents when they are good and punishing them when they are disobedient. The word goblin derives from the Greek kobalos ("rogue").

Learn more about goblin with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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