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Goblins are a small humanoid species on The Disc. They were first mentioned in Equal Rites and were generally despised by most other species until the events of Snuff, where their culture was more fully developed. Historically, goblins have been treated as vermin rather than real people, with no rights under the law; they could be enslaved or exterminated, without consequences.

Culture & Religion[]

Goblins, like some Dwarfs, typically live underground in large cave systems. Some live in the caverns on the Ramkin country estate, Crundells. Goblins have good night vision, living underground. Their language is very difficult for non-goblins to understand, and when they speak the common tongue, it sounds mechanical, as if they are opening and closing a box for each syllable. They wear clothing, make jewelry, create tiny beautiful ceramic boxes, harvest wild plants, drink alcohol, and sometimes -- people say -- they steal chickens.

In Snuff, goblins and their culture/religion are explored in greater depth. Their religion, Unggue, is based around the belief that everything that was once part of your body is always part of your body, and thus, it must be buried with you after death.

Raising Steam reveals that, to goblins, a shortened name is a mark of shame and dishonour, with Of the Twilight the Darkness allowing Moist von Lipwig to get away with calling him 'Twilight' just the once as he understands that Moist was unaware of this aspect of goblin culture. The only known exception to this rule is Stinky, the first goblin member of a local watch, as his superior and colleague, Constable Feeney Upshot, needed something short he could use to call for help in the event of an immediate threat.

Work History[]

Historically, because of their non-humanoid status, finding decent employment was difficult for goblins. In a discussion about Dwarfs keeping up old traditions, it is said that rich Dwarfs in non-Dwarfish professions, such as the clerical trade, will employ goblins to do nothing but hit small ceremonial anvils with small ceremonial hammers all day, purely to create the sort of atmosphere in which a Dwarf finds it easy to think. Due to their former non-status, goblins were used as slave labour on plantations by unsavoury characters such as Gravid Rust. In Reaper Man, goblins are mentioned in an excerpt from the Wellcome to Ankh-Morporke, Citie of One Thousand Surprises guide, a famous publication from the Merchant's Guild, when it is noted that Windle Poons passed goblin delicatessens and dwarf bars in the Shades. In Ankh-Morpork they primarily work for fair-minded Harry King in his recycling and waste industries.

Enslavment and Entry into Society[]

Main article: Snuff, Gravid Rust, Stratford

During the events of Snuff, Commander Vimes discovers that Gravid Rust, among others, is enslaving goblins to take them to a tobacco plantation. At the end of Snuff, Lady Sybil helps Ankh-Morpork come to terms with the goblins, by convincing Tears of the mushroom to display her remarkable skill on the harp in public.

Clacks System and Railway[]

During the events of Raising Steam, the goblins show a remarkable aptitude for machinery. Due to their excellent vision, they are recruited into the clacks system, and help the railway on numerous occassions.

Physical Description and Culture[]

With all goblins, the male ones especially, you got the impression of sinews but they mostly consisted of sinews tied together with other sinews. Surely, the mind protested, there must be muscles in there somewhere, but quite possibly they had to fight for room among all those damn sinews.[1]

Most goblins observe the Unggue Had, a common and slightly ax form of Unggue. they collect nail clippings, snot, and earwax. they store these secretions in beautiful pots, known as Unggue Pots. Thanks to Miss Felicity Beedle, we know that the pot for nail clippings it called Unggue cat. (see also: Soul of Tears)

Relation to other species[]

Gnolls, in earlier books, are explicitly described as a sort of stone-goblin. (Use of the word "goblin" supports the position that originally, Terry Pratchett intended them to be the Discworld analogue of Tolkien's Orcs, as they are vicious, sadistic, murderous, and attracted to filth). However, by the time of Jingo, all that appears to survive of this original concept is the attraction to filth and possibly a little residual cruelty.

In Unseen Academicals, a new race, initially confused with goblins, is introduced to the Discworld. This association is refuted at the end of the book, where Lord Vetinari remarks that Orcs must have been bred from men - only humanity has the inherent cruelty requisite for being subverted into orcishness; goblins are too small-time. TP really doesn't have that much respect for humankind. Goblins are, in fact, a separate species, unrelated to Orcs, Gnolls, Gnomes or Pictsies.

Notable Goblins[]

By adoption

  • Felicity Beedle (technically)
  • Breaking Wind (Nobby Nobbs)



  1. Raising steam