The name ‘goblin’ may derive from the Greek ‘kobalos’, which means ‘villain’ (or ‘rogue’). Its Latin name is ‘cobalus’ while its French name is ‘gobelin’ and in German tales, this being is ‘cobalt’. Today, the creature is widely known under its English name: ‘goblin’ and this name characterizse evil and malicious spirits.
They are small (dwarfish) and grotesque, about the size of a fairy tale dwarf, however, giant goblins, whose height can reach two meters are mentioned in the mythology of the Germanic peoples. Goblins have unusually big ears and noses, dark skin and yellow very filthy teeth.
Goblins prefer to dwell in caves, rock crevices and roots of ancient trees located in isolated places and hardly accessible mountain regions. They can even enter houses or disturb people by knocking on doors and walls and then immediately disappear. They smash pots, pull sleeping people out of bed, pulling pajamas off of them and make noises while moving furniture at night. Unfamiliar with the peoples’ concept of ethics and morality, the goblins do bad things just for fun.
Small, malicious creatures resembling demons, goblins are known for their greed and tempers. They first appeared by the name of “goblin” around the Middle Ages in Europe, but can be found with varying details to their personalities in the tales of many countries. For example, the redcap of Anglo-Scottish folklore gets his red chapeau from dipping it in the blood of those he has killed.
There is also a rare occurrence of a friendly goblin in the thirteenth-century Latin book Gesta Romanorum, which has a tale titled “How, in a certain part of England, thirsty hunters were given refreshment by a benevolent goblin,” the plot of which is rather self-explanatory. Goblins vary in size and shape and are said to be easily distracted by the promise or sight of gold. They can also be terrible tempters, as in Christina Rossetti’s haunting and erotically charged poem “Goblin Market,” where they lure victims to their doom with luscious, irresistible fruit.