[ gob-lin ]
See synonyms for goblin on Thesaurus.com
  1. a grotesque sprite or elf that is mischievous or malicious toward people.

Origin of goblin

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English gobelin, from Middle French, from Middle High German kobold “goblin”; see kobold

synonym study For goblin

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, …” (Shakespeare, 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.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use goblin in a sentence

  • Ourrias is carried to the bottom of the river by the goblins and spirits that come out and hover over it at night.

    Frdric Mistral | Charles Alfred Downer
  • Little dark-colored goblins, with a will-o'-the-wisp in their caps, danced about the room.

    Rudy and Babette | Hans Christian Andersen
  • At any graft, no matter what,Your merry goblins soon stravag: Booze and the blowens cop the lot.

  • The night had darkened until, to Teola, shivering and ill, it seemed alive with shadowy goblins which mocked at her.

    Tess of the Storm Country | Grace Miller White
  • The one human thing, with the goblins before me—Alone—in a loneness so ghastly—Alone!

British Dictionary definitions for goblin


/ (ˈɡɒblɪn) /

  1. (in folklore) a small grotesque supernatural creature, regarded as malevolent towards human beings

Origin of goblin

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