A goblin is a type of fairy originally from European folklore. The word "goblin" is originally derived from the Greek word "Kobalos," which translates into English as "Rogue" or "Evil Spirit." The word goblin has traditionally been reserved for any ugly fairy that is either mischievous or malevolent.
Because of this, the term goblin has been used to describe a wide variety of creatures found in a multitude of traditions throughout Europe. The term goblin can be quite nebulous; and in some cases it can be unclear if a creature would be better described as a goblin, a fairy, or an elf.
See: Western Goblins
After the publication of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings trilogy between 1954 and 1955, the view of goblins in modern Western fantasy began to change. Goblins were now commonly seen as their own distinct race of humanoid creatures. Typical features of goblins in modern fantasy includes a shorter-than-human stature, either a flat or long and hooked nose, bat-like ears, and either a mischievous or malevolent demeanor.
See: Fictional Goblins
Somewhat paradoxically, in the study of folklore the term goblin has at times been expanded to include a variety of creatures from non-Western traditions that are seen to be "goblin-like" by Western scholars.
See: Nonwestern Goblins
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