Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An imaginary gnomelike creature to whom mechanical problems, especially in aircraft, are attributed.
  • n. A maker of mischief.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mythical creature reputed to be mechanically inclined and mischievously inclined to damage or dismantle machinery.
  • n. Any mysterious, unknown source of trouble or mischief.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (folklore) fairies that are somewhat mischievous

Etymologies

Perhaps blend of Irish gruaimín, bad-tempered little fellow (from Middle Irish gruaim, gloom, surliness) and goblin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Possibly from Old English grëmian ("to vex", "to anger"), related to German grämen and Swedish gräma ("to grieve"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • When the gremlin is kneeling on the wing prying up the panel you can see the actor's shoes under his gremlin costume.

    The Twilight Zone: Nightmare At 20,000 Feet 2

  • Her gremlin is her twin self, who talks to her in the second person, tells her to play it safe and not stick out from the crowd.

    Writing

  • [Just a side note: Mohawk was only created because Stripe was so popular and there needed to be a Mohawk-stylin 'gremlin in the second one.] i actually liked the smart one in part 2 cause he was kinda funny. or the one that dressed as a female

    Gremlins Mohawk | SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles

  • During WWII, EMI was commonly known as a gremlin who would take over the electrical system of a fighter plane wrecking havoc on the control systems, especially during thunderstorms or highly charged atmosphere.

    SeekingAlpha.com: Home Page

  • I just wanna say. .quick, because the gremlin is starting to wake up … oops, she’s grumbling.

    10 Things To Do Before You Become A Parent | Her Bad Mother

  • When Anthony Overfield rides his motorcycle, he carries two passengers on board: so-called gremlin bells.

    The Power of Lucky Charms

  • He is Gremlin Gus— almost as if the gremlin is an imaginary dark alter ego of the pilot who has first seen him.

    Storyteller

  • May 20, 2008 at 10:50 am i tawht a gremlin was a car?

    Hmmm…the zebra looks good, - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

  • The emotional, irrational part is the chimp while the gremlin is the negative belief or behaviour which has the potential to inhibit performance.

    Evening Standard - Home

  • In indonesia the brits did the same thing, use the Japanese soldiers to maintain law and order in Indonesia, of course it sort of failed with the battle of surabaya wu lah, it was called the gremlin force. can check on the net. i think the rearmed japanese killed at least a few hundred vietminhs。

    www.hardwarezone.com.sg

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Comments

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  • Well, for myself, I'd prefer a definition that very clearly states when it is appropriate to allow them access to to food, water, and sunlight.

    September 20, 2011

  • It just seems to me that if I asked a layman, in a quiet moment when he wasn't busy laying, for a definition I probably wouldn't get the 'especially in aircraft' bit.

    September 20, 2011

  • Oh--wait. Do you object to the form of the definition?

    September 20, 2011

  • Wasn't it? I thought it was some pilot joke from WWII or something.

    September 20, 2011

  • Was AHD written by pilots or is it suggesting the origin of that usage (definition 1) was in aviation?

    September 20, 2011

  • Some lady who is into Matrix Energetics told me she saw a gremlin sitting with a needle and thread, sewing and repairing my morphic field and then painting it over with a big brush and applying some clear sealant. Well, that is a nice helpful gremlin apparently. ;)

    September 8, 2008

  • Boggarts, poltergeists... It's a tough one. I'll bet they have bragging competitions about this. 'Well, I'm Changeling Orchestration Co-ordinator for Upper Taunton...'

    March 10, 2008

  • Do you think a gremlin is more or less michievious than a sprite? What about a pooka? I would have thought pookas were pretty darned michievious.

    March 10, 2008

  • Looking at the WordNet definition, I wonder what the accepted scale of fairy mischievousness might be...

    March 10, 2008