Definition of hobgoblin in English:



  • 1(in mythology and fairy stories) a mischievous imp or sprite.

    • ‘His creased brown skin throbbed with muscle, he was a hobgoblin, and failure was unacceptable in goblin society.’
    • ‘Though Mr McCallum does admit, and even provide evidence for, the existence of hobgoblins and faeries.’
    • ‘A group of hobgoblins emerged from behind him.’
    • ‘It was a time when witches did mischief while spiteful fairies and hobgoblins roamed about.’
    • ‘It is a time when the very mention of witches, gnomes, hobgoblins and ogres is enough to conjure up a fantasy world populated with a multitude of such creatures.’
    • ‘If people want to believe in tooth fairies, or leprechauns, or hobgoblins, or taniwha, or whatever, it is their right to do that.’
    • ‘Gaffle turned round and stared at the oncoming horde of hobgoblins.’
    • ‘In England the hobgoblin was as helpful a sprite as the brownie.’
    • ‘A romantic historical account, it told of a hobgoblin, the ugliest of his maligned kindred but valorous of heart, who fell in love with a beautiful princess of Ilnumin, one of the fallen cities of the moon elves of the Elven Age.’
    • ‘It is so lovely to view the sweet innocence of the ghouls and hobgoblins who visit our thresholds, calling out ‘trick or treat’, often accompanied by imaginative verse of their own making.’
    imp, sprite, goblin, elf, brownie, pixie, leprechaun, gnome, dwarf
    bogey, bogeyman, troll, evil spirit
    hob, nix, nixie, elfin
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A fearsome mythical creature.
      • ‘In his childhood Martin was afraid of the dark, of ghosts and hobgoblins, and his fear of attack by the threatening unknown later came to surface in his art.’
      • ‘Imagination, then plays upon our fears when there is feeble light, making us see ghouls and hobgoblins in every shadow that moves.’
      • ‘By the time the hobgoblins and ghouls are out and about on the 31st it is rising less than four hours after sunset.’
      • ‘But I wasn't about to stand up to a rampaging bunch of hobgoblins anyway.’


Mid 16th century: from hob + goblin.