Definition of gremlin in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈɡrɛmlɪn/


1An imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained mechanical or electronic problem or fault: a gremlin in my computer omitted a line
More example sentences
  • We wish to clarify that gremlins were responsible for yesterday's story naming Ben O'Connor as Cork hurling captain.
  • One-to-one sessions are being offered to help people chase away computer gremlins throughout the week.
  • He also had ambitions to write restaurant reviews for a student rag and partook of a few free meals with that end in mind, but when he handed in the disk it was blank, the work, he said, of a computer gremlin.
1.1An unexplained problem or fault: electrical gremlins are often difficult to locate
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, we encountered some electrical gremlins in Pomona, and, as a result, we have had to backtrack to square one to establish a solid baseline.
  • We also had an electrical gremlin that affected us for longer than what we thought.
  • McLaren must be facing Melbourne with mixed feelings, because for the past two years, they have had the quickest car on the track, only to fall away in the opening two races with mechanical gremlins.


1940s: perhaps suggested by goblin.

  • It was pilots who first talked about gremlins, mischievous sprites responsible for any unexplained mechanical problems suffered by their planes. The earliest mention of them comes from the USA in the 1920s, but they are particularly associated with the Second World War. The word may be a combination of goblin and Fremlins, a type of beer—so these were the sort of creatures you see when you have had one too many.

Words that rhyme with gremlin

Emlyn, Kremlin

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: grem|lin

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