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Why are Goblins Green?

Well, we could tell you the answer, but isn’t it more fun to guess?

The meaning of a goblin’s green skin is in one of these idioms: 1. To go green on someone.

2. The be green with envy.

3. To be green around the gills.

4. The green-eyed monster.

1. To go green on someone – this means to get upset or angry with someone. ‘She went totally green on me and told me to get out!’

2. To be green with envy – your friend just bought a new car but you’re still riding the bus. You might feel green with envy because they have better transport than you.

3. To be green or green around the gills means to look ill. This idiom relates to the reason goblins are green. Goblins live in damp caves or old buildings and like to sneak around at night. They rarely go out in the sun and this is why they never look healthy!

4. The green-eyed monster – this is an idiom for jealousy, which is a stronger emotion than envy. ‘The green-eyed monster got me when I saw my ex-girlfriend with a new man’ means 'I felt extremely jealous'.

Goblins in British Folklore

Myths about goblins are extremely popular in British folklore. Like the goblins in Harry Potter films, they love money and treasure and usually have a secret treasure chest hidden somewhere! British goblins are much more dangerous than the ones who work in Gringotts Bank. In myths and legends, goblins are often cold-hearted murderers.

However, there are some nicer members of the goblin family, like hobgoblins. These cousins of green goblins are usually small and helpful. They prefer to live with a family and keep the home clean and tidy… most of the time. At other times, hobgoblins can be quite naughty.

Here we have another link to Harry Potter, because J.K. Rowling used lots of beings from British folklore in her books.

For example, do you remember the character named Dobby? In the northern counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the word ‘Dobby’ means ‘hobgoblin’ or house spirit.

If you travel even further north, you eventually reach the English-Scottish border. Be careful here traveller! This is the territory of Redcaps. We've already featured Redcaps in the blog What are the Top Five Creatures in British Folklore?

But for anyone who has never heard of this type of goblin, they are quick and very dangerous! Also, the land that Redcaps inhabit often has a violent history. One theory is that Redcaps are spirits of dead men who lost their lives in battles between the English and the Scots.

Why are they called Redcaps? This picture will give you a clue – but what you may not know is that the red colour of this creature’s hat is blood. Myths say that the Redcap must keep his hat (cap) wet with blood. The Redcap’s victims are usually lost travellers.

One final thing you need to know – goblins are clever. Never confuse them with trolls, who seem to be a less intelligent species! If you were lost in a dark forest, on the Scottish-English border, could escape from a Redcap? There is one way to protect yourself. But you'll have to take part in or catch up on the webinar 'Scottish Myths' to find out! We hope you have enjoyed this blog. As always, you will progress more by reading, listening and practising your English so make sure you check out IQ Global for free resources and our YouTube channel. See you next time!

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