hob·​bit ˈhä-bət How to pronounce hobbit (audio)
: a member of a fictitious peaceful and genial race of small humanlike creatures that dwell underground

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"What is a hobbit?" wrote J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1937 fantasy novel that introduced Mr. Bilbo Baggins. The author then answered himself: "They are (or were) little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves.... There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along...." Tolkien tells us that hobbits "are inclined to be fat," and that they "dress in bright colours"; they "have good-natured faces, and deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner)." Tolkien, a professional linguist who taught at Oxford, coined the word hobbit (and many other terms—in fact, a whole new language) for The Hobbit and for his enormously popular series The Lord of the Rings.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Elsewhere in Middle-earth, Nori (Markella Kavenagh) and Poppy (Megan Richards) attempt to keep The Stranger (Daniel Weyman) hidden from the other harfoots, as the hobbit-like creatures continue their migration. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, 9 Sep. 2022 While an homage to the hobbit homes of old, this cool planter is actually made in futuristic fashion by way of a 3D printer. Mark Stock, Men's Health, 7 Sep. 2022 Returning to the hobbit hole does not mean that Britain must stop caring about the world beyond the Shire. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 18 Sep. 2022 While there are no hobbits in the series, there are hobbit ancestors called harfoots, who get some trailer time, as well as a first-ever look at some of Tolkien’s characters from the island kingdom of Númenor, such as Isildur (Maxim Baldry). James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Aug. 2022 This mug says it all, with the kind of affection only a true LOTR fan and hobbit-lover can understand. Mark Stock, Men's Health, 7 Sep. 2022 In case the title wasn't a giveaway, expect some epic battle scenes to commence before the not-so-homebody hobbit, Bilbo, finally concludes his adventure—with a certain ring in tow. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 1 Sep. 2022 But these are the only official, licensed hobbit houses in North America. Rachel King, Fortune, 14 Aug. 2022 Rwandans are notoriously neat, I am told, and the countryside is packed with postage-stamp-size plots, like hobbit gardens, hugging the hillside contours in orderly terraces. Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, 15 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History


coined by J. R. R. Tolkien

First Known Use

1937, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hobbit was in 1937


Dictionary Entries Near hobbit

Cite this Entry

“Hobbit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hobbit. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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