Definition of gremlin in English:



  • 1An imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained mechanical or electronic problem or fault.

    ‘a gremlin in my computer omitted a line’
    • ‘When you pick up your Monday issue and your column has been shifted around and replaced with citations from the New Testament, you will find that these gremlins have been up to their mischief once again.’
    • ‘‘Nobody should be surprised by the gremlins now coming out of the woodwork,’ says a Western investment banking source in Hong Kong.’
    • ‘Whilst you are fiddling with the electrics the gremlins will conspire to kick the engine into life.’
    • ‘I took it as an accident; some universal glitch; like a gremlin that was careless and let his existence be known.’
    • ‘On today's cars full of electronics, that 10-minute examination can still save hours of chasing gremlins through the wires.’
    • ‘What is more risky, a live orchestra playing wrong notes or a gremlin getting into the electronics?’
    • ‘They decided to do two days' club racing in Scotland in the hope of diagnosing and curing the fault before setting off to the TT and when the gremlins struck again in practice, they traced the problem and solved it.’
    • ‘Other glitches were maddening: Power window switches and reading lights on the Quest often seemed possessed by gremlins, and its sliding doors didn't close quite right.’
    • ‘He also had ambitions to write restaurant reviews for a student rag and partook of a few free meals with that end in mind, but when he handed in the disk it was blank, the work, he said, of a computer gremlin.’
    • ‘Normally I would have done this, but this morning some internet gremlins seem to have interfered with my ability to get coherent access to the online edition.’
    • ‘If their testing of such fundamental aspects as this is flawed, what other gremlins might be waiting inside?’
    • ‘One-to-one sessions are being offered to help people chase away computer gremlins throughout the week.’
    • ‘But printer's gremlins don't harm a masterpiece.’
    • ‘We wish to clarify that gremlins were responsible for yesterday's story naming Ben O'Connor as Cork hurling captain.’
    • ‘In the meantime, I'm going to go kill the gremlin that keeps posting on my computer.’
    • ‘The plan, with its fixed goals and firm dates, assumed a level of control that I could never have achieved - over the weather, the seas, the gremlins in the engine room, and scores of other factors.’
    • ‘By morning light the gremlins usually retreat.’
    • ‘The reason for there being no column from Castlewellan was a combination of lack of time and gremlins playing havoc with my PC.’
    • ‘Unfortunately for the huge crowd at Stacks Field the old gremlins came back to haunt them as 15 points were leaked and Selby returned with a point they couldn't have dreamt of at three-quarter time.’
    • ‘I know that gremlins get into projects, even mine, but these errors should have been cleaned up.’
    fault, error, defect, flaw, imperfection, failing, breakdown
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    1. 1.1 An unexplained problem or fault.
      ‘electrical gremlins are often difficult to locate’
      • ‘The Ferrari driver had the upper hand over team-mate Michael Schumacher on Friday, when the champion appeared to be in a strop that team insiders insisted had nothing to do with uncharacteristic electronic gremlins and understeer.’
      • ‘Partnered by Nick Patrick the pair were beset by mechanical gremlins in 2004 after their roll on the Astra Stages.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, we encountered some electrical gremlins in Pomona, and, as a result, we have had to backtrack to square one to establish a solid baseline.’
      • ‘We offer our condolences to Alicia Keys and Celine Dion, who were vexed by rare, but inexcusable, technical gremlins during their performances.’
      • ‘The South African ironed out the gremlins in his game - especially his service and return-of-serve - although he had to battle to gain the upperhand in the second set.’
      • ‘If you want to hear something heretical in the digital age, I often still use an old analog cassette recorder, the venerable Sony TC-D5M It runs on D-Cells and is not subject to digital gremlins.’
      • ‘TRG struggled with mechanical gremlins during the Rolex Sports Car Series race at Laguna Seca Raceway.’
      • ‘We also had an electrical gremlin that affected us for longer than what we thought.’
      • ‘That's helped Ferrari flourish despite huge prices, mechanical gremlins and servicing costs that make a date with J-Lo look cheap.’
      • ‘However, it was to no avail as about three laps later he was sidelined with mechanical gremlins while his team mate Ralf Schumacher spun off and beached himself in the sand.’
      • ‘The best pit crew in the business will help this team remain dominant - if Kenseth avoids the mechanical gremlins that have plagued his Roush Racing teammates.’
      • ‘In 2002 he retired due to mechanical gremlins, but in 2003 he finished 35th.’
      • ‘There are some scratches and blemishes visible in the very early going, but for the most part this is a shockingly bright, clean, clear transfer with almost no digital gremlins to complain about.’
      • ‘To Martin Cullen I say, that is if he is left in power, maybe it would be a good idea to sort out the gremlins in electronic voting and give us all a break.’
      • ‘But his glory was shortlived and he dropped down the pack for an eventual seventh place finish when mechanical gremlins struck.’
      • ‘This time the early season gremlins were of the electronic kind.’
      • ‘Father-of-two Mr Broad has been having trouble with his Nissan Almeria but the mysterious electronic gremlins are striking a range of cars including Toyotas, Volkswagens and Land Rovers.’
      • ‘McLaren must be facing Melbourne with mixed feelings, because for the past two years, they have had the quickest car on the track, only to fall away in the opening two races with mechanical gremlins.’
      • ‘He's on form, he's injury free and I think he'll do it if he stays clear of the mechanical gremlins.’
      • ‘Fox presents Kingdom of Heaven in a breathtaking 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that seems almost totally free of any digital gremlins.’
      defect, blemish, fault, imperfection, deficiency, weakness, weak point, weak spot, inadequacy, shortcoming, limitation, failing, foible
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1940s: perhaps suggested by goblin.