AskDefine | Define hobgoblin

Dictionary Definition



1 (folklore) a small grotesque supernatural creature that makes trouble for human beings [syn: goblin, hob]
2 an object of dread or apprehension; "Germany was always a bugbear for France"; "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"--Ralph Waldo Emerson [syn: bugbear]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A small, ugly goblin that makes trouble for humans
  2. In the context of "by extension": A source of dread, fear or apprehension; a bugbear

Extensive Definition

This article is about the legendary creature. For other uses, see Hobgoblin (disambiguation).
Hobgoblin is a term typically applied in folktales to describe a friendly or amusing goblin.
The word seems to derive from 'Robin Goblin', abbreviated to 'hobgoblin', 'hob', or 'lob'. The name originally referred to a specific folkloric character Robin Goodfellow but has grown to be defined as a different species of goblin or fairy. In French folklore, hobgoblins are called Lutin.
The name is often interchangeable with "bugbear", "boogeyman", "bugaboo" or "bogie", and the term "hobgoblin" has grown to mean a superficial object that is a source of (often imagined) fear or trouble; probably the most well-known example of this usage is Ralph Waldo Emerson's line, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," from the essay Self-Reliance.

Fantasy Hobgoblins

The Lord of the Rings

In The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, Hobgoblins are a menacing, larger and stronger form of goblins. Tolkien later remarked in a letter that through further study of folklore he had subsequently learned that "the statement that hobgoblins were 'a larger kind' [of goblins] is the reverse of the original truth". This mistaken reversal in size on Tolkien's part has generally been followed in other fictional hobgoblins. Tolkien then renamed them as Uruks or Uruk-hai in an attempt to correct his mistake.

Moomin books

In Finn Family Moomintroll, third book of the Moomin series of children's books by Tove Jansson, The Hobgoblin is a strange magical creature; even his hat, when found by other creatures, can work strange sorts of magic all by itself. While slightly frigtening to those who don't know him, Hobgoblin is in fact a rather lonely and sensitive creature, who can grant the wishes of others but not his own - unless sombody specifically asks him for something which he wants, and then gives him what he himself created. In this depiction, "Hobgoblin" seems the name of one specific creature rather than that of a whole species, though this point is left deliberately ambiguous.

Role-playing games

The creature commonly appears in the bestiaries of fantasy role-playing games, where it is portrayed as a larger, stronger, smarter and more menacing cousin of the goblin, but not as high up on the goblinoid hierarchy as bugbears. See Hobgoblin (Dungeons & Dragons) and Hobgoblin (Warhammer)
In Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage, hobgoblins are large, thorny brutes that infest the desolate mountain passes of Errormon, home of the Mirari folk. Their leader is Kitarak, who must be slain in a certain point of the game.
In Mage: The Ascension a hobgoblin is a physical manefestation of a hallucination suffered by a Mage's avatar.
In Exalted Hobgoblins are warrior grunts of the fair folk.
In Flintloque Hobgoblins are a race similar to the Welsh who come from the land of Taffsea and fight for the Grand Alliance with the Orcs of Albion. They portray various Welsh stereotypes, often being named as the Boyos of Taffsea, and their cavalry ride on war sheep.
In Changeling: the Lost Hobgoblins are strange fae creatures that live within the Hedge that divides Arcadia and the mortal world.

Computer and video games

In the MMORPG RuneScape, hobgoblins are an evolved form of goblins which have been crossed with the god Bandos' ork troops. They are presented as stronger then goblins, yet weaker than orks, and they commonly attack weak players. They commonly drop Limpwurt roots, an ingredient in making strength potions.
In the Fable game series they are small, fat and disfigured. they are called hobbes and are described as trouble, stupid and greedy. They eat flesh and sleep in rivers they shoot magical orbs from a staff or use weapons like hammers or axes. They can range from the size of a child to the size of a big man. The smaller weaker one can be summoned by wood nymphs and they also work for them. They usually live in hobbe cave. Also they are the guardians of a demon door guarding the dark will users suit.
In the Heroes of Might and Magic Series, hobgoblins are upgraded forms of goblins, and are aligned with the barbarian/might towns.

Comic books

Spider-Man comics feature a villain named Hobgoblin, first appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #238 written by Roger Stern.
Another hobgoblin is in Monster in My Pocket #23. In the comic book series, he is a prankster who serves as comic relief among the good monsters. He makes fire come out from his fingers.

Alcoholic beverage

Hobgoblin is a strong dark ale brewed by the Wychwood brewery in Oxfordshire.


A Hobgoblin is not a goblin at all, of course indeed it is related to a goblin.
hobgoblin in Welsh: Bwci
hobgoblin in Portuguese: Hobgoblin

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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