gremlin

noun
grem·​lin | \ ˈgrem-lən How to pronounce gremlin (audio) \

Definition of gremlin

: a cause of error or equipment malfunction (as in aircraft) conceived of as a small mischievous gnome

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Examples of gremlin in a Sentence

during the World Wars, fighter pilots adopted the fanciful notion that gremlins were responsible for mechanical failures on their planes
Recent Examples on the Web More worrying than Japanese fighter planes is an evil presence—a gremlin—that threatens to tear the plane apart in mid-air. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chloë Moretz battles gremlins on a plane in Shadow in the Cloud trailer," 9 Dec. 2020 Original Article Is there an astronomy gremlin lurking at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico? Tim Childers, Popular Mechanics, "Damaged Beyond Repair, the World's Largest Radio Telescope Will Now Be Destroyed," 19 Nov. 2020 Was this based on some brand-new evidence that the virus mutates like a gremlin, getting worse at night? Roxanne Khamsi, Wired, "A Lack of Transparency Is Undermining Pandemic Policy," 16 Nov. 2020 News of a gremlin, a seahorse and broccoli starring together on TV could only mean The Masked Singer will soon be back. Dana Rose Falcone, PEOPLE.com, "The Masked Singer Announces Season 4 Premiere Date — and Teases New Costumes!," 27 Aug. 2020 One scaly gremlin bites the head off a gingerbread man, with a whole stack of other men awaiting their execution. Tim Carman, Houston Chronicle, "The 10 greatest food scenes from holiday movies and what they really mean," 24 Dec. 2019 My love of being a happy little house-gremlin is why no one could get me on a video call—up until a few weeks ago, that is. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "I Normally Hate Video Chatting—Coronavirus Changed My Mind," 24 Mar. 2020 One scaly gremlin bites the head off a gingerbread man, with a whole stack of other men awaiting their execution. Tim Carman, Houston Chronicle, "The 10 greatest food scenes from holiday movies and what they really mean," 24 Dec. 2019 One scaly gremlin bites the head off a gingerbread man, with a whole stack of other men awaiting their execution. Tim Carman, Houston Chronicle, "The 10 greatest food scenes from holiday movies and what they really mean," 24 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gremlin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of gremlin

1941, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gremlin

origin unknown

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Time Traveler for gremlin

Time Traveler

The first known use of gremlin was in 1941

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Cite this Entry

“Gremlin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gremlin. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for gremlin

gremlin

noun

English Language Learners Definition of gremlin

: a small imaginary creature that is blamed when something (such as a machine) does not work properly

More from Merriam-Webster on gremlin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for gremlin

Nglish: Translation of gremlin for Spanish Speakers

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