goblin |ˈgäblin| nouna mischievous, ugly, dwarflike creature of folklore.ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French gobelin, possibly related to German Kobold (see kobold) or to Greek kobalos ‘mischievous goblin.’ In medieval Latin Gobelinus occurs as the name of a mischievous spirit, said to haunt Évreux innorthern France in the 12th cent.
Lately I've been researching supernatural creatures of myth and folklore. To my surprise, I found a profusion of diminutive creatures, whose sole purpose in life is to vex humans. Kobold, goblin, hobgoblin, imp, and boggart are just a few of their names.
They go back all the way to ancient Greece where kobaloi—plural for kobalos—were messing with people's heads and property. They are called dokkaebi in Korea and duende in Latin America, and I'm sure there are many more.
Their range is wide—they live in fields, marshes, along streams or waterfalls, and often in barns or people's homes, though staying invisible most of the time. Their common characteristic is their mischievous nature. Even the benevolent ones tend to be temperamental. Goblins and pixies make the milk go sour or cause travelers lose their way.
We don't believe in invisible fairy-creature anymore, but I suspect goblins and their cousins are exceptionally adaptable. Like urban foxes and hawks that nest on skyscrapers, they've followed us into the city. They are the ones who misplace our keys and steal socks from the dryer. It's the only logical explanation.