[ grem-lin ]
/ ˈgrɛm lɪn /


a mischievous invisible being, said by airplane pilots in World War II to cause engine trouble and mechanical difficulties.
any cause of trouble, difficulties, etc., especially in a mechanical, electrical, or other system: A loose wire was the gremlin that blew out the lights.

Origin of gremlin

First recorded in 1925–30; of obscure origin; in its earliest attested use, an RAF term for a low-ranking officer or enlisted man assigned the most onerous duties; later development perhaps affected by phonetic resemblance to goblin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for gremlin

British Dictionary definitions for gremlin

/ (ˈɡrɛmlɪn) /


an imaginary imp jokingly said to be responsible for malfunctions in machinery
any mischievous troublemaker

Word Origin for gremlin

C20: perhaps a corruption of goblin
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