Menacing Monster Guide

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
Fact Monster's
Menacing Monster Guide
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by David Johnson

From their birthplace in France, these nasty, hideous cousins of gnomes have spread all over Europe. When they entered England in ancient times, the Druids called them Robin Goblins, from which the name "hobgoblin" derives.

Goblins have no permanent home, living temporarily in old trees and under moss-covered rocks. Reported to be playful on occasion, goblins are nonetheless to be avoided. A goblin's smile can curdle blood, and its laugh can make milk turn sour. Goblins amuse themselves by hiding things, spilling food, and confusing travelers by changing signposts.

The youngest of all the creatures in the monster pantheon, gremlins were born in the United States. Highly mechanical, they have been responsible for much technological progress. They live around tools and inside machines and appliances.

During World War II, however, gremlins turned against mankind when mechanics and scientists began to take credit for gremlin work. They began by causing mechanical failures in aircraft. Gremlins torment humans by blunting tools, pushing hammers onto thumbs, playing with the hot and cold water in showers, holding down the toasting mechanism and burning toast, and deflating tires.

Known as "genies" in English, jinn (singular form jinni) have deep roots in Arab culture. They are half human, half supernatural. They can do good or evil. Often jinn take naughty pleasure in punishing people for wronging them, even unintentionally.
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Jinn are generally believed responsible for illness and mishaps. Jinn can appear as humans, animals (especially ostriches), and objects such as trees or rocks. In particular, jinn love old lamps. When someone rubs the lamp three times, the jinni inside will appear and grant three wishes. The jinn achieved international fame when they appeared throughout the tales Scheherezade told in The Thousand and One Nights.

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