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Gremlin (Mythical Creature)

Gremlin (Mythical Creature)

Gremlins are mythological creatures that have been around for over a century. These mischievous and often destructive creatures were first invented at the beginning of the 20th century to explain malfunctions in aircraft. They were later believed to be responsible for malfunctions in other machinery, processes, and their operators.

The name “gremlin” comes from the Old English word “gremian” which means “to vex.” Gremlins are highly mechanical creatures that live around tools and inside machines and appliances. They have been responsible for much technological progress, but are also known for their destructive tendencies. Depictions of these creatures vary widely, but they are often depicted as small, impish creatures with pointy ears and sharp teeth.

Origins and Etymology

Historical References

Gremlins are mythical creatures that have been prevalent in Western folklore since the early 20th century. The term “gremlin” was first coined during World War I, when pilots began to experience mechanical malfunctions that were often attributed to mischievous creatures. However, the concept of gremlins as supernatural beings that cause mechanical problems can be traced back even further to Germanic folklore, where goblins were believed to be responsible for similar issues.

Linguistic Roots

The word “gremlin” is believed to have its roots in the Old English word “gremian,” which means “to vex” or “to annoy.” This linguistic connection reinforces the idea that gremlins are creatures that exist solely to cause trouble and create chaos.

Over time, the concept of gremlins has evolved and been adapted to fit different cultural contexts. In some cases, gremlins are depicted as tiny, mischievous creatures with elf-like ears and yellow eyes, while in other instances they are portrayed as more demonic beings with sharp teeth and claws.

Despite their varied depictions, the common thread that runs through all interpretations of gremlins is their role as tricksters and troublemakers. Whether they are causing mechanical malfunctions or simply wreaking havoc for their own amusement, gremlins are creatures that are best avoided.

Characteristics of Gremlins

Physical Appearance

Gremlins are mythical creatures that are believed to be tiny humans with elf-like ears and yellow eyes. They are often depicted wearing miniature overalls and carrying tools that are sized for them. Gremlins are known to be mischievous and have a reputation for causing malfunctions in aircraft or other machinery. They are said to have sharp teeth and claws, and their skin is usually green or brown in color.

Behavioral Traits

Gremlins are known for their destructive nature and are believed to cause chaos and havoc wherever they go. They are often blamed for causing mechanical failures in aircraft and other machinery, which has led to their reputation as a nuisance. Gremlins are also known for their mischievous behavior, which includes playing pranks on humans and causing general mayhem.

Despite their reputation for being troublemakers, some people believe that gremlins can also be helpful and protective. In some cultures, gremlins are thought to be guardians of machinery and are believed to help keep it running smoothly. Others believe that gremlins can be appeased with offerings of food or drink and that they can be persuaded to stop causing trouble.

In conclusion, gremlins are mythical creatures that have been the subject of many stories and legends. While they are often portrayed as mischievous troublemakers, they can also be seen as helpful and protective guardians of machinery.

Cultural Impact


Gremlins have been featured in numerous works of literature, including Roald Dahl’s “The Gremlins” and Terry Pratchett’s “The Wee Free Men”. In these stories, gremlins are portrayed as mischievous creatures that cause mechanical failures and other mishaps. Their inclusion in literature has helped to popularize the creature and solidify its place in popular culture.

Film and Television

Gremlins have had a significant impact on film and television. The 1984 film “Gremlins” and its sequel “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” were both commercial successes, and helped to establish the creature as a pop culture icon. In these films, gremlins are portrayed as dangerous creatures that wreak havoc on the human world.

Gremlins have also made appearances in numerous television shows, including “The Twilight Zone” and “The X-Files”. In these shows, gremlins are often portrayed as mysterious and malevolent creatures that cause chaos and destruction.

Video Games

Gremlins have also made appearances in various video games. The most notable of these is the “Gremlins” video game series, which was based on the popular film franchise. In these games, players must navigate through levels filled with gremlins, using various weapons and tools to defeat them.

Overall, gremlins have had a significant impact on popular culture. Their inclusion in literature, film, television, and video games has helped to establish them as one of the most recognizable mythical creatures in modern times.

Comparative Mythology

Gremlins are a type of mischievous and often troublesome creature that have been the subject of folklore for many years. While they are not the only type of creature of this type, they are certainly one of the most well-known. Comparative mythology is the study of the similarities and differences between the myths and legends of different cultures. This can help to shed light on the origins and evolution of these stories.

Similar Creatures in Folklore

There are many creatures in folklore that share similarities with gremlins. For example, the Japanese have a creature known as the “tsukumogami,” which is a type of spirit that inhabits inanimate objects and causes them to malfunction. Similarly, the Scottish have a creature known as the “brownie,” which is a helpful spirit that lives in houses and farms, but can become mischievous if not treated properly.

Influence on Modern Myth

Gremlins have had a significant impact on modern mythology. They first gained widespread recognition during World War II, when they were blamed for mechanical problems in aircraft. This led to a number of stories and legends about gremlins causing problems in all sorts of machinery. In the 1980s, the movie “Gremlins” helped to solidify the creature’s place in popular culture.

Overall, while gremlins are certainly unique creatures, they are not without their similarities to other creatures in folklore. Additionally, their impact on modern mythology cannot be ignored.

Encounters and Sightings

World War II Accounts

During World War II, pilots and aircrew members reported encountering gremlins while flying missions. These gremlins were said to be mischievous creatures that caused mechanical malfunctions and other disruptions on airplanes. Some pilots even claimed to have seen gremlins sitting on the wings of their planes, tinkering with the engines and causing problems.

One of the most famous accounts of gremlin encounters during World War II was the story of a Royal Air Force pilot named Percy the Pigeon. Percy claimed that he was forced to crash-land his plane after gremlins tampered with its controls. While some people dismissed Percy’s story as a tall tale, others believed that it was evidence of the existence of gremlins.

Modern-Day Reports

In recent years, there have been a few reports of gremlin sightings. While these reports are not as common as they were during World War II, they still suggest that gremlins may be lurking in the shadows. Some people claim to have seen small, mischievous creatures that resemble gremlins in their homes or workplaces, while others have reported strange mechanical malfunctions that they attribute to gremlin activity.

It is important to note that there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of gremlins. However, many people continue to believe in these mythical creatures and share stories of encounters and sightings. Whether or not gremlins are real, they remain a fascinating part of folklore and popular culture.

Protective Measures

Traditional Beliefs

In many cultures, gremlins are believed to be mischievous and potentially harmful creatures. As such, various protective measures have been developed to ward them off. One common belief is that gremlins are afraid of iron, which is why iron objects such as horseshoes and nails are often hung near machines and tools. Additionally, it is believed that gremlins are repelled by the sound of bells, so bells are sometimes used to keep them away.

Contemporary Practices

In modern times, protective measures against gremlins have evolved to include more technological solutions. For example, some people believe that electromagnetic fields can interfere with the activity of gremlins, so devices such as EMF meters and ionizers are used to create an environment that is unfriendly to the creatures. Other people use more practical measures, such as keeping machines and tools in good working order and avoiding overuse or misuse.

Overall, while there is no surefire way to protect against gremlins, these traditional and contemporary practices can help reduce the risk of encountering these mischievous creatures.