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a mischievous, imaginary creature


gremlin = der Kobold --- GOOGLE INDEX gremlin: approximately 15,000,000 Google hits



Shuttle Columbia Lands Safely, Ending GREMLIN-plagued Flight

(Associated Press news headline)

You have a wonderful child. Then, when he's 13, GREMLINS carry him away and leave in his place a stranger who gives you not a moment's peace.

- American actress Jill Eikenberry

Did you


- an imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained mechanical or electronic problem or fault

- an unexplained problem or fault

(Oxford English Dictionary)

When British writer Roald Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, he heard his fellow airmen complaining about "gremlins" whenever a technical problem arose with one of the airplanes. After being transferred to Washington, D.C. as Assistant Air Attaché in 1942, he began writing and in 1943 published his first children's book "Gremlins."

In the book the imaginary creatures take revenge on the RAF for destroying their forest home by sabotaging their aircraft. The RAF eventually re-trains the gremlins to repair rather than sabotage. The book became an international success, counting among its readers Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although the term gremlin was little known outside the military, Dahl's book made it so popular that it became part of the English language. Unfortunately his contribution has long since been forgotten.

In his children's books, which also include Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Big Friendly Giant, Dahl created his own language, which he called "gobblefunk," by combining elements of real English words or twisting other words to make them sound silly. Here are a few examples:

- babblement - to have a conversation full of nice gossip

- chatbag = someone who talks a lot

- frobscottle = a pale-green and fizzy drink that makes you "whizzpop," or expel internal bodily gas

- scrumdiddlyumptious = delicious

- swishwiffingly scrumdiddlyumptious = incredibly delicious!


imp, demon, elf, fairy, goblin, pixie, sprite

SMUGGLE OWAD into today's conversation

"Gremlins crashed my computer again."

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