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Gremlins are known by many names; Grimblems, Gremlers, Sky Boogies, and Widgets. Fifenellas are female Gremlins, and Widgets are children. Spandules would be the kind that is seen to ice the wings of airplanes. In traditional folklore Gremlins range in size from very small, probably around the size of a beaver to almost human-sized. They are covered in a dun to dark brown color fur and have little stubby ears like a terrier dog. Gremlins despise humans to a great degree and will take the chance to destroy them whenever possible. Gremlins had the powers of flight, however, they lost it for reasons unknown to us. Now they make residence in high altitude mountain ranges and in high tree tops; perhaps so they may feel the winds and dram of their days of flight. Gremlins are similar and may be related to the Irish Phooka. Gremlins are reportedly very strong and are able to tear through metal without effort. They also seem to have no need for food, air, or water, or at least are able to survive without them for quite some time.

Is any of this section correct? Rmhermen 17:56, Aug 30, 2004 (UTC)

Previous creatures[edit]

There should be links to similar creatures that are blamed for technology misfunctions?: Cobalt and nickel were named after the beings that fooled miners. What do you call the beings that introduce errata in printing? --Error 21:12, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Claim of Authorship[edit]

Roald Dahl in his autobiographic short story Lucky Break claims that he was the inventor of the word: Early in this period I also had a go at a story for children. It was called "the Gremlins", and this I beleive was the first time the word has been used... The Gremlins had wives caled Fifinellas and children called Widgets. Unless someone provides earlier references, I am going to change the article accordingly.

I read the same account when I read Henry Sugar. Edited. --KJ 14:03, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the first known recorded account of the gremlins is from issue 13 of the servicemen's fortnightly Royal Air Force Journal dated April 18, 1942 [1] It is extremely unlikely that during his RAF service Dahl would not have been familiar with the stories of the gremlins, from which it is logical to assume he took his inspiration. John laming claims the story was in circulation as early as 1940 among Battle of Britain Spitfire pilots [2]DV 16:50, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

This is what the online etymology dictionary has to say in regards to the origin of the word;

Gremlin "small imaginary creature blamed for mechanical failures," oral use in R.A.F. aviators' slang from Malta, Middle East and India said to date to 1923. First printed use perhaps in poem in journal "Aeroplane" April 10, 1929; certainly in use by 1941, and popularized in World War II and picked up by Americans (e.g. "New York Times" Magazine April 11, 1943). Possibly from a dial. survival of O.E. gremman "to anger, vex" + -lin of goblin; or from Ir. gruaimin "bad-tempered little fellow." Which dates the first written example well before the 1942 example.Number36 02:21, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

That is quite good, as etymology goes. We may never know where the word comes from. If there were a documented usage of the word "gremlin" to refer to a mischievous sprite before this, or some Iranian connection... In favor of that etymology, it's well known that in the small villages of England, odd words have been retained for hundreds of years. Purely hypothetically, I suggest there might have been an RAF mechanic named "Gremmeling" (a Danish name not unknown in England) whose abilities were doubted by the RAF, and they started to speak of repairs being "Gremmlin(g)ed" and from there they arrived at an imaginary creature. (talk) 04:47, 27 November 2015 (UTC)Eric


I seem to remember reading that Roald Dahl had first shown the story to Eleanor Roosevelt, and that it was she who made Franklin D. Roosevelt contact Disney. I don't have a copy of Henry Sugar to check it. Can someone who has a copy of Lucky Break or Henry Sugar confirm or deny what I remember? --KJ 03:11, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

I just checked, and it's not true. --KJ 03:41, 17 February 2006 (UTC)


I removed the random line about gremlins sometimes being refered to as a hobgoblin and seen flying a hoverboard. As far as I can tell, it's a Spiderman reference inserted as a joke. If I'm wrong, and if someone can find a cite for that, go ahead and put it back in and leave a note here.--Raguleader 23:38, 28 October 2006 (UTC)

What about the movie Hobgoblins, which was a clear rip-off of the Gremlins movies?


Major Makeover[edit]

I have just started a major makeover of this article. Before my edit, the article had one small introductory section, a section on gremlins in popular culture, and a trivia section. The first part of the popular culture section dealt with the origins of the gremlins story among airmen, and how the story spread through Roald Dahl. This I put int their own section, Origins and spread of the gremlin legend. Most of the remainder of the popular culture section, I included in a section on other appearances of gremlins. I did however, trim most of the items because they gave to detailed plot summaries. The important thing is to mention the Gremlin-relevance, a reader might then get details at the article in question.

What was now left was some information on gremlins that were mostly unrelated to the original air force legend, other than in name, as well as a whole bunch of trivia. I created a section to include references to gremlins of other varieties, and then kept the trivia-section at the end. I wrote a short introduction to the "Gremlins of other varieties" section, and cut away some of the most tangential and irrelevant pieces of trivia.

I feel the structure I have suggested for the article makes sense, in that it divides the different kinds of gremlins. I also feel that it is the first section that is the most important, and should be the most substantial. The second and third sections have every possibility of diverging into long list-like collections of trivia and random references. It is partly to avoid this that I have included the little introduction at the start of the third section. It is important to mention that there are several different depictions of Gremlins in various media, but attempting to list them all is both unecessary and unmaintainable. I therefore suggest that we keep it to a small paragraph mentioning that a great variety of different depictions exist, and then include a few examples. The second section could very well be written in the same model.

A problem here is that even if we agree to a small number of examples to list, people will feel inclined to add references to the appearance or mention of gremlins in their favourite book, film, song etc. To avoid this, I suggest we put up some guidlines on the talk page, and include html-tags in section two and three:"<!-- ATTENTION EDITORS: PLEASE DO NOT ADD CULTURAL REFERENCES TO THIS SECTION WITHOUT READING THE TALK PAGE.->".

I also feel that several of the items still left in the Trivia section should be deleted. If my suggestions are accepted, I say include a few of the items in the trivia section in the relevant section as the examples we need, then delete the rest and remove the trivia section.

Please tell me your thoughts. Dr bab 20:22, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Excellent work on the makeover. Next step would be to try to get some WP:RS to confirm some of the mostly unsourced statements. Is it true that there is no real folkloric basis for the term "gremlins" and their nature? I did a quick pass over the article to integrate trivia items or delete them. Some were handled via the disambiguation page. In doing my pass it became clear that the article is really about Airplane Gremlins, a specific type of gremlin, and perhaps the original gremlin if the claims about the word being introduced via Dahl are true. Unfortunately the article is poorly sourced, and I wish someone could get some solid references from academic folklore sources to establish no prior use of the term earlier. If we can clean up the references and prove the claim of first use, it would be a real improvement. Buddhipriya 04:30, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the article at present claims that airplane gremlins are the original gremlins, and am unsure about the correctness of this. This was the claim made by the article before my cleanup, but it was actually difficult to sift it out from the poor structure of the article. The cleanup I did was mainly of an aestethic nature, now a factual cleanup is needed as well. If the airplane gremlins are not the first instance of gremlins, I suggest another "origins" section at the very beginning discussing the roots of the creatures back in folklore. There exists Gremlin articles in several other languages, perhaps we could get some sources by looking at them? Unfortunately, my language skills are somewhat limited, but it seems that the german article (stub) also focuses on the aircraft gremlins, and claim that they originated at the start of the 20th century. Dr bab 06:28, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
The german wiki sites this article, where it seems that the Gremlins did indeed exist before the aircraft legends. Unfortunately, this article itself cites no sources.Dr bab 06:33, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
A quick search found this academic paper that cites the word as being coined in World War II, but also notes controversy over the entymology. I added it to the lead. I am actually sort of surprised that this cleanup has produced a fairly clear stub of an interesting article so quickly. In the next few days I will see if I can find my OED and see what it says. Buddhipriya 06:40, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
I threw in some references to the academically-acceptable article in the F&W Standard Dictionary of Folklore. Some might disagree about the facts I cited from there, but I believe that they should nevertheless be mentioned because (1) it is a mainstream source that is often referred to & (2) some of it is entertaining. (And it's the only article in the entire book which I am sure was atimes written tongue-in-cheek.) -- llywrch (talk) 09:26, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Gremlins and New Yorker cartoonist[edit]

When I was very young - in the mid-1940s - one of my favorite picture books was about gremlins. It was illustrated by a very famous cartoonist for the New Yorker, whose name I can't recall, and the basic plot was about an American air force pilot who crashed and was wounded because of the malevolence of some gremlins, who then regretted their acts and helped him get back on flying status. The climactic scene involved the gremlins attaching magical ropes to help him stay upright during a balance test involving standing on one leg for a period of time. Can anyone nail this down? Seems like it would be worth adding to the article, at least briefly, if it can be sorted out.

Hampete (talk) 21:31, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Origin of the Word[edit]

How did they come to pick the name Gremlin? Is there a history of the word? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Darth Borehd (talkcontribs) 23:38, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

See the section 'claim of authorship' above.Number36 05:05, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
The word comes from a Kent brewer called Fremlin (later part of Whitbread). The deities were said to inhabit beer bottles, hence the aerial problems were sometimes assumed to be as a result of the pilot or crew 'having a few' before flying. During the 1920-1930's the in-joke amongst UK pilots was that the RAF was The Best Flying Club in the World, and moderate drinking in the afternoon by aircrew was not uncommon at the time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:59, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Separate Page for the Joe Dante Gremlins[edit]

Shouldn't the Gremlins from the Joe Dante movie get their very own page?

I mean, the Fembots from the Austin Powers movies have their own page, as well as the Disney version of Aladdin and the Shrek version of Puss in Boots, so why not them?

The "List of Gremlins" page is nice, but the Dante Gremlins need a separate page.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Agustinaldo (talkcontribs) 22:48, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I would agree with the above, but point to the Mogwai page, and also suggest excising, and possibly merging some of the information from this page, and placing a redirect link to there at the top of this page. I feel it is the more correct place for this information, since there's no evidence in the film that, within the context of the films, the 'Gremlin' form of Mogwai is not also properly still called Mogwai, they are the same species after all in both forms. The name 'Gremlins' being applied to the more aggressive form by one of Characters to differentiate the two forms was in the nature of a personal neologism based on the modern folkloric creatures of popular culture rather than an accurate or correct denomination within the context of the film.Number36 (talk) 00:16, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Removed Text[edit]

I have removed the following from the beginning of the article;- (talk) 08:43, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

This is included in the section on the movie The Gremlins: "Strangely, the gremlins in these movies look nothing alike the ones of folkloric mythology". However, the article does not list a description of the folkloric appearance. Does anyone have a source on the appearance the "eyewitnesses" gave? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:24, 16 October 2008 (UTC)


This is included in the section on the movie The Gremlins: "Strangely, the gremlins in these movies look nothing alike the ones of folkloric mythology". However, the article does not list a description of the folkloric appearance. Does anyone have a source on the appearance the "eyewitnesses" gave? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:26, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

I have edited the article to remove WP:NPOV. -Signaleer (talk) 13:53, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Does anyone even know what the original creature was described as?-- (talk) 08:41, 17 September 2010 (UTC)


This article and Fifinella disagree over what Dahl called a widget. This article says they were male gremlins, while that article says they were baby gremlins. Which is correct? Carolina wren (talk) 19:38, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

To my knowledge, it's "babies", not males. Males are just "gremlins". -- (talk) 15:37, 21 June 2018 (UTC)

Epic Mickey appearance[edit]

Shouldn't there be a fact that the Gremlins from the unmade WWII cartoon later appeared in the 2010 Wii video game Epic Mickey, as chief mechanics and residents of the Cartoon Wasteland due to being scrapped? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:01, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Gremlin reference[edit]

In sam's Teach yourself Java in 21 Days it says that "Errors occur because... programs encounter situations out of their control, such as... sunspots, gremlins and on and on and on. Should this be on the page? -Nick Vanderplop — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Not sure why, this article is not to list every use of the term. MilborneOne (talk) 17:17, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Dahl Popularised them outside the RAF?[edit]

I am not sure about Dahl popularising them outside of the RAF. They are referred to in the Three Stooges film I Can Hardly Wait, where the Stooges play aircraft engineers at the "Heedlock" Corporation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tanyajane (talkcontribs) 22:41, 2 September 2015 (UTC) /wiki/I_Can_Hardly_Wait Could this mean that gremlins were already widely known of, even in the US, in the early forties?

§ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tanyajane (talkcontribs) 22:32, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Basis for Talespin episode?[edit]

Not totally sure, but recall that a Disney's Talespin episode, I think it was called "The Sound and the Furry," featured a version of gremlins, dismantling/sabotaging airplanes so a shady mechanic could scam the pilots. Perhaps this should be added to the page? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:646:8001:C726:C0FD:7CDD:583A:699F (talk) 04:50, 17 November 2015 (UTC)

It could be; indeed it most likely is, in my opinion; but unless the Sound and the Furry creatures are called Gremlins, then obvious though it may seem, stating they are based on Gremlins would be unsourced original research. -- (talk) 15:38, 21 June 2018 (UTC)

Representation as purely technical misbehavior[edit]

When I was working as an avionics technician in general aviation (1970-1984) gremlins had no physical presence. Instead, they appeared as troublesome symptoms that vanished when tracked down. Most appeared as intermittents that vanished even though nothing that could cause the symptoms was disturbed. If the trouble could possibly be explained rationally (without getting silly about it) they were just chalked up to an unknown cause. Only if no rational explanation could be suggested was it a gremlin, which happened a couple times a year in our three man shop. At least two of us had to try our hands at isolating the cause for us to accept it as a true gremlin. In all the flamboyant presentations we all collaborated in the hunt and only one gremlin survived more than 20 man-hours of troubleshooting. Potential gremlins that we did not have an opportunity to track down became "head-scratchers."

In my 31 years of my new career (IT field technician for a Fortune 100 company) I have never seen a gremlin, nor anything similar.

My personal experiences are not material for Deep web, but I am surprised a non-physical representation is mentioned only as a subset of spiritual manifestations. Everybody I knew thought of them as internal to equipment. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Flagmichael (talkcontribs) 19:50, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

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"Not to be confused with Kremlin" seems like a vandalism[edit]

Shouldn't it be removed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:55, 7 April 2017 (UTC)