What's the difference between elves, trolls and goblins?
What about leprechauns?
- 1 decade agoFavourite answer
An elf is a creature of Germanic mythology. The elves were originally imagined as a race of minor nature and fertility gods, who are often pictured as youthful-seeming men and women of great beauty living in forests and underground places and caves, or in wells and springs. They have been portrayed to be long-lived or immortal and as beings of magical powers. They are also called:
Danish: Elver, elverfolk, huldrer or alfer (note alfer today translates to fairies). .
Dutch: elf, elfen, elven, alven.
English: (Old English) ylf; (Middle English) albe; (Current) elf, elves.
German: Elb (m) Elbe (f), Elben; Alb (m) "incubus"; from the
English: Elf (m), Elfe (f), Elfen "fairies".
Icelandic: álfar, álfafólk and huldufólk (hidden people).
Old Norse: álfar.
Swedish: alfer, alver or älvor (note Älvor today translates to fairies).
Norwegian: alv, alven, alver, alvene / alvefolket (note alvefolket today translates to elfpeople)
The word elf (álf) may possibly trace back as far as the theoretical Proto-Indo-European root word *albh meaning "white", from which also stems the Latin albus "white", and its derivatives in Portuguese, Spanish and English albino.
A troll is a fearsome member of a mythical anthropomorphic race from Norse mythology. Originally more or less the Nordic equivalents of giants, although often smaller in size, the different depictions have come to range from the fiendish giants – similar to the ogres of England (also called Trolls at times, see Troller's Gill) – to a devious, more human-like folk of the wilderness, living underground in hills, caves or mounds. In the Faroe islands, Orkney and Shetland tales, trolls are called trows, adopted from the Norse language when these islands were settled by Vikings.
The meaning of the word troll is unknown. It might have had the original meaning of supernatural or magical with an overlay of malignant and perilous. Another likely suggestion is that it means "someone who behaves violently". In old Swedish law, trolleri was a particular kind of magic intended to do harm. It should also be noted that North Germanic terms such as trolldom (witchcraft) and trolla/trylle (perform magic tricks) in modern Scandinavian languages does not imply any connection with the mythical beings. Moreover, in the sources for Norse mythology, troll can signify any uncanny being, including but not restricted to the Norse giants (jötnar).
A goblin is an evil, crabby, or mischievous creature of folklore, often described as a grotesquely disfigured or gnome-like phantom, that may range in height from that of a dwarf to that of a human. They are attributed with various (sometimes conflicting) abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases goblins have been classified as constant annoying little creatures somewhat related with the celtic brownie.
According to "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English" the name is probably derived from the Anglo-French gobelin (medieval Latin gobelinus), which is probably a diminutive of Gobel, a name related to the word kobold. Goblin is also related to the French lutin. In addition, there also exist various other alternative spellings of the word goblin, including: Gobblin, gobeline, gobling, goblyn, gobelinus (medieval Latin), and vulgus gobelinum (demon) (Latin).[
- jplatt39Lv 71 decade ago
Look at it this way. The elf, which traditionally has the plural elfs, is sort of the generic creature from which the others are derived. Tolkien used and popularized the term elves to describe tall, magical, beautiful beings who were similar to the Irish Tuatha De Danaan.
Tolkien was an expert on magical terms in English. He wrote the OED entries on elves, dwarves, etc. As a devout Catholic, though, he was not going to deal very openly with the relationship both the Tuatha de Danaan type elves and the small winged pixies traditionally described by the the term, had to fertility and ancestral gods.
Trolls are either small hairy creatures who live under bridges or large stupid and muscular beings like ogres. Apparently the later are descendents of the giants of norse legends (like Ullr's wife). The Wikipedia suggests this might also be a survival of the ancestral cults, though I haven't found their source for that statement yet.
Goblins are an example of small elfs. The word was apparently derived from the French diminitive of Kobold, which was used for both household elves and Dwarfs, or Dark Elfs. Edit: the word for Kobold is used to translate the word leprecaun into German.
In other words, the Elfs and the Goblins are pretty much the same. The Trolls are somewhat distinct. But it should be understood that I am using the word "Elf" very loosely to describe all the creatures sometimes identified as such.Source(s): I'm lazy today so for this answer I simply looked up the relevant Wikipedia articles and didn't hunt up any more authoritative sites.
- SharonLv 45 years ago
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in standard fantasy/folklore. Trolls = green or brown, tall, gangly creatures. Gnomes = short, intellegent, varying skin colors. Goblins = Green, brown, or grey. Extremely violent, but not very intelligent. Ogres = Grey or Brown, very large, muscular, limited intelligence. Elves = tall, thin. Usually light blue/grey skin, highly intelligent. Gremlins = small, brown, violent creatures.
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- Anonymous1 decade ago
Trolls and goblins are usually evil and only live to destroy or maim.
Elves are a noble race, usually good, but some can be evil. Fair to the human eye, immortal, resistant to magic, poison, and desease and fairly handy with a longbow and longsword.
- brother_in_magicLv 71 decade ago
In their oldest incarnations,faieries and elves were not winged. The idea of prettified minute fairies began with Spencer's 'Fairy Queen' and became more extreme in Victorian children's stories,when fairies were often sickening goody-twoshoes who appeared to kids just to moralize!
The most notable early reference to Elves is in Norse and Saxon mythology. The term aelf-shotten was given to people suffering strokes in Saxon England; it was believed the fine flint arrowheads left in the fields from prehistoric times were actually magical bolts shot by elves. elves were not particularly well-disposed to men,unless propitiated--there are records of food-offerings being placed atop burials mounds to keep them happy. In Ireland the equivalent seems to be the tuatha de Danann. In celtic Britain and Brittany there are elf-like supernatural beings who are also man-high --lake maidens in Wales, fays in the forests of Brittany.
Trolls originated in Norse myth and were imported by Viking to Britain,where their legends are also well known. In Beowulf, the monster Grendel was described as a troll once or twice. Trolls are large,hairy and ugly,usually cannibalistic,and turn to stone if caught out in daylight.
Goblins generally dwell underground,and like elves they can vary according to region--some of very malevolent to men, others more mischevous. old mines & tine working are places where they like to hide. They tend to be 3/4 feet high,usually brown and twisted in appearance.
The Leprechaun you mentioned is ireland's fairy shoemaker. He is one of the 'lesser classes' of trooping fairies,who don't have the power and nobility of the de Danann elves. He is very tricksy but if you are wise he can lead you to riches.
Some folklorists believe fairy beings,particularly the tall elves and Dananns, are the folk memories of the aboriginal peoples of Britain/ireland. This may well,in some cases, be true--1) they shoot the fine flint arrows of earlier times 2)they are afraid of iron, which would be natural for Stone/bronze age folk 3) they are said to dwell in the burial mounds/stone circles of the earlier peoples. This could explain why there are many stories of intermarriage between mortal men and fairy women--they were in fact marrying a woman from an older tribe whose customs seemed otherworldly or magical.
- Anonymous5 years ago
Trolls used to live under bridges, now they live on message boards.
- 1 decade ago
elves are slimly built and willowy, trolls are large and hulking, goblins are short and sneaky, lepercons (sp?) are mini people and are devious