Yours, Etc.: Origins and Uses of 8 Sign-Offs
late 14c., "to go about, stroll," later (early 15c.) "roll from side to side, trundle," from Old French troller, a hunting term, "wander, to go in quest of game without purpose," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German trollen "to walk with short steps"), from Proto-Germanic *truzlanan.
Sense of "sing in a full, rolling voice" (first attested 1570s) and that of "fish with a moving line" (c.1600) are both extended technical applications of the general sense of "roll, trundle," the latter perhaps confused with trail or trawl. Figurative sense of "to draw on as with a moving bait, entice, allure" is from 1560s. Meaning "to cruise in search of sexual encounters" is recorded from 1967, originally in homosexual slang.
"ugly dwarf or giant," 1610s, from Old Norse troll "giant, fiend, demon." Some speculate that it originally meant "creature that walks clumsily," and derives from Proto-Germanic *truzlan, from *truzlanan (see troll (v.)). But it seems to have been a general supernatural word, cf. Swedish trolla "to charm, bewitch;" Old Norse trolldomr "witchcraft."
The old sagas tell of the troll-bull, a supernatural being in the form of a bull, as well as boar-trolls. There were troll-maidens, troll-wives, and troll-women; the trollman, a magician or wizard, and the troll-drum, used in Lappish magic rites. The word was popularized in English by 19c. antiquarians, but it has been current in the Shetlands and Orkneys since Viking times. The first record of it is from a court document from the Shetlands, regarding a certain Catherine, who, among other things, was accused of "airt and pairt of witchcraft and sorcerie, in hanting and seeing the Trollis ryse out of the kyrk yeard of Hildiswick."
Originally conceived as a race of giants, they have suffered the same fate as the Celtic Danann and are now regarded in Denmark and Sweden as dwarfs and imps supposed to live in caves or under the ground.
A stupid person; a dullard
[1970s+ Army; probably fr the dwarf or demon of Norse mythology]
[fr the action of fishing by trolling]
in early Scandinavian folklore, giant, monstrous being, sometimes possessing magic powers. Hostile to men, trolls lived in castles and haunted the surrounding districts after dark. If exposed to sunlight they burst or turned to stone. In later tales trolls often are man-sized or smaller beings similar to dwarfs and elves. They live in mountains, sometimes steal human maidens, and can transform themselves and prophesy. In the Shetland and Orkney islands, Celtic areas once settled by Scandinavians, trolls are called trows and appear as small malign creatures who dwell in mounds or near the sea. In the plays of the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, especially Peer Gynt (1867) and The Master Builder (1892), trolls are used as symbols of destructive instincts. Trolls in modern tales for children often live under bridges, menacing travelers and exacting tasks or tolls.