Goblin

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Goblin illustration by John D. Batten from "English Fairy Tales" (19th century)

A goblin is a monstrous creature from European folklore, first attested in stories from the Middle Ages. They are ascribed various and conflicting abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. They are almost always small and grotesque, mischievous or outright malicious, and greedy, especially for gold and jewelry. They often have magical abilities similar to a fairy or demon. Similar creatures include brownies, dwarfs, duendes, gnomes, imps, and kobolds.

Name[edit]

Alternative spellings include gobblin, gobeline, gobling, goblyn, goblino, and gobbelin English goblin is first recorded in the 14th century and is probably from unattested Anglo-Norman *gobelin,[1] 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,[2][3] which was the name of a devil or 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".[2][4] Alternatively, it may be a diminutive or other derivative of the French proper name Gobel, more often Gobeau,[5][6] diminutive forms Gobelet, Goblin, Goblot, but their signification is probably "somebody who sells tumblers or beakers or cups".[7] 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".[8][9] 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,[10] Gosselin,[11] Étancelin,[12] etc.) The Welsh coblyn, a type of knocker, derives from the Old French gobelin via the English goblin.[13][14] The term goblette has been used to refer to female goblins.[15][16]

Goblins in folklore[edit]

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, 1920
From The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, 1920

European folklore and collected folk stories[edit]

Goblin-like creatures in other cultures[edit]

Many Asian lagyt 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)[19]
  • The Goblin Rat, from The Boy Who Drew Cats (Japanese fairy tale)
  • Twenty-Two Goblins (Indian fairy tale)[20]
  • In South Korea, goblins, known as dokkaebi (도깨비), are important creatures in folklore. They usually appear in children's books.[citation needed] The nursery song 'Mountain Goblin(산도깨비)' tells of meeting a goblin and running away to live.
  • In Bangladesh, Santal people believe in gudrobonga which is very similar to goblins.

Other Goblins had been identified with creatures from another culture:

Goblins in modern fiction[edit]

Representation of a goblin as it appears in the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons

Two major branches of goblins exist in popular fiction, including fantasy settings. Alongside J. R. R. Tolkien's descriptions of goblins, the older branch is present in fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, in which goblins appear as inherently evil and malicious, with varying coloring and generally matted and filthy hair. The distinctive green-skinned, hairless, capricious, and generally amoral, rather than absolutely evil, type of goblin created for the Warhammer universe is direct progenitor of goblins in more modern games, such as those in the Warcraft universe and Magic: The Gathering.

Goblinoids are a category of humanoid legendary creatures related to the goblin. The term originated in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game,[22] in which goblins and related creatures are a staple of random encounters. Goblinoids are typically barbaric foes of the various human and "demi-human" races. Even though goblinoids in modern fantasy fiction are derived from J. R. R. Tolkien's orcs, in his Middle-earth "orc" and "goblin" were names for the same race of creatures.

The Green Goblin is a well-known supervillain who has various abilities like enhanced stamina, durability, agility, reflexes and superhuman strength due to ingesting a substance known as the "Goblin Formula". He has appeared in various Spider-Man related media, such as comics and films, including Spider-Man (2002) as Norman Osborn, and Spider-Man 3 (2007) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) as Harry Osborn. The early Smurfs were called goblins.[23]

Goblin-related place names[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ T. F. Hoad, English Etymology, Oxford University Press, p. 196b.
  2. ^ a b CNRTL etymology of gobelin (online French)
  3. ^ Du Cange et al, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis ...(online French and Latin) [1]
  4. ^ κόβαλος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Goblin". The Online Etymological Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-12-20.
  6. ^ HOAD, p. 196b.
  7. ^ Albert Dauzat, Noms et prénoms de France, Librairie Larousse 1980, édition revue et commentée par Marie-Thérèse Morlet. p. 295b Gobel.
  8. ^ Duden, Herkunftswörterbuch : Etymologie der deutschen Sprache, Band 7, Dudenverlag, p. 359 : Kobel, koben, Kobold.
  9. ^ HOAD, p. 101b.
  10. ^ Géopatronyme : surname Beuzelin in France (online French)
  11. ^ Géopatronyme : surname Gosselin in France (online French) Gosselin
  12. ^ Géopatronyme : surname Étancelin in France (online French)
  13. ^ Franklin, Anna (2002). "Goblin", The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fairies. London: Paper Tiger. ISBN 1-84340-240-8. p. 108
  14. ^ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English
  15. ^ Anthony, Piers (1992). The Color of Her Panties. You can't move me out, you skirted goblette.
  16. ^ Porter, Jesse (28 September 2015). "Goblin". The Adventures of Puss in Boots. Episode 12. My dear, dear goblette, there is really nothing to it.
  17. ^ Apples4theTeacher - short stories
  18. ^ Dutch Fairy Tales for Young Folks, 1918, compiled by William Elliot Griffis
  19. ^ Rick Walton - folktale
  20. ^ Sacred texts
  21. ^ Sally M. Promey Sensational Religion: Sensory Cultures in Material Practice Yale University Press, 24.06.2014 isbn 9780300187359 p. 99-100
  22. ^ Weinstock, Jeffrey (2014). The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 9781409425625.
  23. ^ "9780854081530 - Dilly Duckling and the Goblins by Peyo; Matagne". www.biblio.com. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
  24. ^ Ghosts, Goblins, and Haunted Castles, Aventinum Publishers, 1990 in English, page 51
  25. ^ Glasgow Street Names, Carol Foreman, Birlinn, 2007, page 58.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.